Vermont mother challenges gender theory in elementary school

Note: Tara Ferf Jentink has several children in the Addison Northwest School District (ANWSD). Her third-grade daughter reported some of what was being taught regarding gender, and Tara believed this was inappropriate at this age. Public school officials took an opposing view. This article seeks to relate the facts and laws related to this dispute.

Gender theory has been prioritized in most Vermont public schools, and children are taught newly-created gender terminology as a consequence. However, most parents are unaware of the types of materials being read to their children, and may be surprised to find out that administrators aggressively defend the new gender curriculum.

In an interview with True North Reports, Tara Ferf Jentink said she was unaware of ANWSD’s gender curriculum until alerted by her young child, and she took steps to address the issue with administrators — and was stunned by their response.

“When my third grade daughter started coming home sharing verbatim what is being taught and discussed behind closed doors in regard to gender ideologies, transgenderism, consent and sexuality, it stirred my awakening,” she said.

“My daughter explained the health teacher had taught them new universal terms for extended family members who were LGBTQIA+. For example, if a niece or nephew does not know their gender the universal name is now ‘nibling,’ and if an aunt or uncle is unaware of their gender identity they are called an ‘auncle.’”

Addison Northwest School District

A school playground in the Addison Northwest School District

Both of these words are new to the English language. “Nibling” is a variation of “sibling,” and has been increasing in usage in the UK after being widely credited to an early transliteration of Korean. “Auncle” is a non-binary term for aunt/uncle.

When Ferf Jentink decided this was inappropriate, she met with the school principal.

“I began to explain how teaching young children comprehensive sexual education at a young age, including gender ideologies and transgenderism, was in my opinion not age appropriate and too ‘heavy,'” she said. “The principal responded, ‘Well, from my opinion it is too heavy if they don’t know.'”

The principal used a comparison to a Holocaust book, Ferf Jentink recalls, then stated that books of all types need to be embraced. One such book on transgenderism, “When Aiden Became a Brother,” is a book read aloud from kindergarten through sixth grade district wide at ANWSD. After the book was read to students, Ferf Jentink said, the teacher and principal took questions from the schoolchildren.

“Third graders had questions about sexuality and procreation, gays and lesbians, and felt very confused after the book was read to them,” Ferf Jentink said. “The teacher and principal together affirmed the book saying, ‘This is our favorite book and we will be reading it again later in the year.’ The principal continued to answer third graders’ questions on sexuality and made an invitation for students to reach out if they felt the same way the character did in the book, hinting teachers would be there to help guide and direct them.”

“Teachers truly believe they are helping children by directing them to begin the transgender process without parental knowledge or consent. Teachers feel they are protecting children from their parents,” Ferf Jentink added.

This is consistent with Vermont laws and ‘best practices’ in children’s education and health care, which provide that parents will not be told about their own children’s decisions to change their gender identity. The issue is far from settled in either the science or the legal system, but its implementation is a high priority for the changing world in Vermont schools.

In his book “The Marxification of Education,” author James Lindsay relates that children are being indoctrinated through a radical pedagogy centered on “conscientization.” Ferf Jentink’s account is consistent with this approach to teaching, in which activist educators screen children to condition them to see the world as divided between oppressors and oppressed. Children are then “groomed” in a form of mind control that takes priority over traditional learning, which is viewed as oppressive. This process is designed to deconstruct existing “normative” ideas of family structure, education, economics, arts, literature and even math.

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and comprehensive sex education are fields in which educators collect details about individual children and families to then use to “conscientize” those children to political awareness, which is deemed more important than traditional learning. As a result, proficiency in traditional core subjects declines, as children are focused more on political activism and “social awakening.”

Ferf Jentink and another mother asked to attend health classes but were told they could not. They sought to exempt their children from sexualizing because they felt the content was age inappropriate — children cannot understand these concepts without also being equipped to understand sexuality, she said.

Addison Northwest School District

Addison Northwest School District Superintendent Sheila Soule

Next, the mothers took their complaint to Addison Northwest School District Superintendent Sheila Soule. However, Soule defended the curriculum, according to emails obtained by True North.

“LGBTQIA individuals live, work, and attend school in our communities. We will continue to affirm the identities of these individuals in our day-to-day practice which includes learning about and discussing diversity in all its many forms in an effort to ensure inclusion and empathy,” Soule told the parents in an email.

Ferf Jentink submitted a request to shield her children from this teaching and asked Soule to sign a form acknowledging the request. She also asked that her children be given alternative instruction in math, science, art or ELA during the transgenderism lessons period.

Superintendent Soule rejected the request, writing, “Respectfully, it is clear we are at an impasse. There are no opt-out provisions and as I have stated numerous times we will not provide alternatives for classroom instruction. I am declining to sign the attached forms.”

Vermont law does not require queer theory to be part of any curriculum. As noted by a pro-LGBTQ+ resource, schools in Vermont “are not required to teach comprehensive sex education.”

Curriculum must include instruction on sexuality and reproduction, STDs, decision making skills, how to recognize and prevent sexual abuse and sexual violence, contraceptives, and outcomes of pregnancy including childbirth, adoption, and abortion. Despite the range of inclusive topics required to be taught, schools are not required to provide instruction on sexual orientation, gender identity, and state statute does not require curriculum to include explicit discussion consent.

Meanwhile, Vermont statutes explicitly require accommodation of a parental opt-out of certain aspects of sexual education, in 16 V.S.A. § 134:

Religious exemption: Any student whose parent shall present to the school principal a signed statement that the teaching of disease, its symptoms, development, and treatment, conflicts with the parents’ religious convictions shall be exempt from such instruction, and no child so exempt shall be penalized by reason of that exemption.

The situation at ANWSD results in parents being denied an exemption from content that is not required to be taught. This interferes with parents’ decisions about what content is best for their young children.

“When the other parent and I made it clear we desired our children to no longer participate in any teaching on gender ideologies, transgenderism, consent, etc.,” Ferf Jentink said, “we were told, ‘This is where the rubber meets the road.’ They said we could pull our students from the WomenSafe portion of the health curriculum and they would gladly make accommodations for this portion as ‘safe touching’ and STD’s etc. may be discussed, but our children needed to be placed back in health class in general to meet the state requirements and standards for education.”

“In so many words, the administrators said you place your children back in health class or leave the school. We were verbally threatened to leave the school. It was a statement of you come into alignment with us and comply, or leave,” Ferf Jentink said.

John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield. © Copyright True North Reports 2023. All rights reserved.

Image courtesy of Addison Northwest School District

19 thoughts on “Vermont mother challenges gender theory in elementary school

  1. With test scores as bad as they are and the response from places like New York lowering the standards for student, maybe we should get back to basics. Math (not this common core stuff), English and writing with proper grammar. I can’t even write in cursive anymore because young people can’t read it.

  2. My great granddaughter at 12 years old said she is a gay transgender whatever that means. She has no male traits whatsoever and is very feminine acting. her mother who loves the bizarre and is all for this. It’s very sad than instead of helping her clear up her confusion she is being encouraged. Her reaction so far to my knowledge is to wear a breast binder and boxers.

  3. I’ve lived in this State all of my 78 years with the exception of the 4 years spent in the navy.
    What this State is becoming is a progressive/liberal attack on our ethics, values and morals.
    There is more crime, murders and a clear cut attack on our principles.
    The Vermont as I have known is gone. It’s now just a mini California and a haven for people with little values, very little respect and no morals.
    I’m now actually ashamed to say to any people I meet when I’m out of this State that I’m from Vermont.
    What is being taught in our schools is shameful and the administrators should be fired on the spot.
    We need to wake up people and nip this now as it’s fast becoming too late

  4. Parents teach ethics. teachers should allow that example
    grade school is too early for teachers to butt into parental roles.

  5. This “diversity” nonsense is mental illness. there are two genders, decided at conception and coded on the birth certificate. And anyone who thinks there are more than two genders or that they can be changed is mentally deficient and should not be allowed near children.

  6. This indoctrination will continue as long as parents accept it. Parents are the most powerful part of a child’s education and if a DEI curriculum exists, parents must rise up in a big push to dismantle it. Start with School Board elections and reexamine preferences for legislative representatives – put them on the spot for a position on this nonsense. Vote can be powerful. Virginia proved that in the last election.

  7. If the lgbqrst’ers can’t accept WHO they are why should we have to accept WHO they say they are.. makes no sense at all and I personally won’t abide by their mental illness or promote it.

  8. Start by voting NO on all school budgets… defund the so-called school systems.
    Next parents need to attend more school board meetings. to pose questions.
    Vote out all school board members that support such indoctrinations.
    Vote out all state representatives and senators that support such indoctrinations.
    Parents look into and learn what the school curriculums include to find out specifically what their children are being indoctrinated into.

  9. This is not “teaching”, this is hard core indoctrination. Gender is not TAUGHT, it is a natural occurrence. You do not need school districts or indoctrinator’s, and it is an area where the board of education has NO BUSINESS!!! Mother Nature handles this, not school boards or school districts. Lines have been crossed, and it began when teachers started sticking their noses in what children had in their lunchboxes. Instead of focusing on the children that had no lunches, they attacked the food that parents sent in their kids lunches. Its over reach and it should have been nipped in the bud years ago. Now its just become full on, lunacy!!!

    • You are correct. Not only school boards and the board of education but our legislators are passing bills that support gender affirming care. The saying used to be “it takes a village” The bills H..89 and S. 37 are kicking the parents out of that very same village. I am a retired teacher and never so glad to be out of what is going on. The indoctrination is 3 times stronger now than it was 2 years ago when I retired. What protection is given to teachers who do not agree with what is going on? What protection is given to the children?

  10. There is one thing that is becoming very clear: The New England states are becoming every bit as toxic and sick as California and the Left Coast. This is certainly nothing to celebrate.

    There is a difference between fighting back and banging your head on the wall.. which one are we doing?

    It pains me to say this but it’s getting very dangerous and unsafe to raise kids up here.
    Look at what you are handing them over too- this article paints but one picture.
    And Homeschooling is not the answer -because look at the communities you are setting your wonderful kids up to attempt to survive in.. a community of people educated as the article explains.

    At this point I tell families with young kids to get the heck out of here.
    I look at these beautiful little ones with parents that have done such wonderful jobs with their babies.
    When you know that this is going on in the schools they will be putting their kids into… it’s just appalling.

    We are allowing the absolute sickest in our society to rise in power and control.

    Here is the latest Victor Davis Hanson: He writes about where were at today- which ironically ties in quite well with this article. We here are absolutely not imagining how bad things are.
    “Life Among The Ruins”

  11. Holy cow! It isn’t April, so this isn’t April Fools…but the story reads like science fiction, or a really bad dream.
    Where do these creatures come from? They don’t seem human. They can’t be American.
    The children though, what a horror. Hey, teacher, leave them kids alone!

  12. “… which includes learning about and discussing diversity in all its many forms in an effort to ensure inclusion and empathy,” so says Superintendent Soule.

    But here we’re already making decisions about what can be excluded, aren’t we? We can exclude people who don’t believe as we do or go along with our doctrine; actually they must submit to our doctrines, so says Soule.

    So we must acknowledge different genders which can be arbitrary categories– after all, we see no “non-binary” in nature, it’s a human construct– but we must not accept and respect differences of opinion. In fact, we must explicitly deny opinions that don’t match what we believe regarding gender.

    Here we have the subversion of freedom of expression, and even of thought. There is only one approved expression regarding children and gender, and that’s one of gender fluidity which, moreover, must be taught in schools in order to align with a doctrine that’s elevated above other considerations.

    We aren’t teaching children to be tolerant of different viewpoints and to respect individuals, which should be a cornerstone of a civics education. Instead we’re teaching children a specific doctrine and to be intolerant of any deviance from that doctrine. Children are to be informed of gender choices and gender language that’s thrust on them when they hardly understand the first thing about gender, while we exclude any language that says that all this talk is arbitrary and doctrinaire and has no place in our elementary schools.

    Simple civics says: respect people and differences. Stop there. That’s enough. That’s a universal principle that doesn’t go the next step to say that beyond respecting people and differences, we must implicitly reject those who don’t accept our way of thinking about what children should or shouldn’t be.

    Stop indoctrinating our children. Stop taking simple civics and twisting it into support for a favored ideology that yes, then turns up the “oppressor/oppressed” card.


    • Thank you for your reasoning and logic, Jim. Excellent comments on an excellently-written article.

  13. Thank you for reporting this story John.

    Will Jentink Sue to get the school allow her daughter to opt-out?

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