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Van Meter parents file petition against LGBTQ+ content in classrooms

Van Meter superintendent Deron Durflinger said parents were primarily concerned about the presence of LGBTQ+ content in classrooms.

VAN METER, Iowa — A group of Van Meter parents has filed a petition asking the district to get rid of curriculum that introduces LGBTQ+ topics into the classroom.

"We had a petition filed," said Deron Durflinger, superintendent for the Van Meter School District. "And it had enough signatures for us to put it on a board agenda, which we did."  

Durflinger said some parents raised concerns over the curriculum, calling it too politically left-leaning. 

This came after a book appeared on a class list about a transgender student's journey was read to a class. 

Durflinger said that this was a mistake made by a substitute teacher. 

"It was listed in the original notes that the teacher had left for the sub, so it got read to the students, but then we quickly remedied [the situation]," Durflinger said. "That message was sent out to students and parents of the students in the classes."

Damian Thompson with Iowa Safe Schools encourages parents who don't agree with the curriculum to request their children be exempt from the content without taking it away from everyone. 

"Just because an individual parent may disagree with it, which is their right to, doesn't mean wiping it from the rest of the curriculum for other families and students is necessarily a rational reaction," Thompson said. "And I would just suggest those parents, again concerned about this to speak with administrators about opting out."

The district has been listening to the concerns of the community and said they are updating policies and encouraging parents to follow the procedure when they disagree with curriculum. 

"Anyone has an appeal to, to content, or to curriculum or to books, you know, there's a process that needs to be followed," Durflinger said. "And we're encouraging individuals to follow that process appropriately. And then we'll follow our policies and go from there." 

The petition also criticized the district for their use of the learning curriculum CASEL, a social and emotional learning process, citing it as politically left-leaning. 

Durflinger said CASEL is used both statewide and nationally as a reource to provide a framework for teachers to be able to help support students. 

Local 5 reached out to the parents who spearheaded the petition and they either denied to comment or failed to respond.

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