Hartford Schools Cover Up Gender Dysphoria Issue | Chris Powell

Does the Hartford School System notify a student’s parents when it learns that the student may be experiencing gender dysphoria? That’s the important question raised by the system’s suspension of a school nurse who recently wrote on social media that school staff are keeping these issues a secret from parents.

The school system works hard to avoid responding, instead obscuring the issue by accusing the nurse of misconduct. The nurse, Kathleen Cataford, who worked at Kinsella Magnet School in Hartford, wrote on her Facebook page last month:

“As a public school nurse, I have an 11-year-old student on puberty blockers and a dozen who identify as non-binary, all but two of them keeping it a secret from their parents with the help of teachers , social workers and school administration. …Children are introduced to this confusion in kindergarten by the school social worker who “teaches” social and emotional regulation and school expectations.

In response, Hartford Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez accused the nurse of revealing “private and personal details about a particular student” and making students “feel unwelcome”. But the nurse hadn’t identified any student by name, or even their school, and her school has about 800 students, probably a lot of them 11. Of course, the policy can’t be questioned at all, which may be the superintendent’s idea.

Last week, this column asked simple questions about the case to a Hartford school system publicist: is what the nurse wrote true? Do school staff necessarily report gender dysphoria issues to parents?

The publicist replied that school nurses do not administer medication to students. But that wasn’t one of the questions.

Pressed, the publicist replied that school staff members encourage students to discuss their gender dysphoria with their parents. It wasn’t responsive either.

Pressed again, the publicist said Hartford school staff members who deal with a student’s gender dysphoria follow written guidelines from the state Department of Education. But exactly how did the Hartford school system interpret this advice in the context of the nurse’s claims? In other words, are the parents informed or not? If not, why not?

The publicist again declined to answer. He also refused to facilitate a call to the superintendent so that she could be questioned directly about the policy and practice of the school system and the veracity of the nurse’s claims.

Thus, the Hartford School Administration follows the policy of stonewalling and concealment that was followed by the state Department of Children and Families when errors came to light to the public. Like the DCF of old, the Hartford school administration hides behind its children to escape accountability.

The DCF covered this path for decades, but eventually it was so discredited that it had to change. Change was accelerated when the General Assembly created the office of the state’s children’s advocate to investigate and report on the department’s worst failings. The department has improved a lot.

There is no similar liability agent for Connecticut school systems. School boards could do the job but, as the ubiquitous advocacy policy suggests, few boards have even one member with the wit and courage to ask critical questions. If the Hartford School Board has members curious about whether, as this school nurse claims, the school system itself is seeding gender dysphoria in the minds of kindergartners and then helping students hide it from their parents, those members did not come forward.

Indeed, amid their political correctness, Connecticut news agencies are no longer curious. While a few reported that a nurse at the Hartford school was suspended for “inappropriate” comments on Facebook, none reported what the controversy actually was about. To get this information, Connecticut had to turn to the London Daily Mail.

The Hartford School System’s policy of withholding crucial information from parents may not work much longer. Similar incidents of concealment and irresponsibility occur in schools across the country. They show why public education really isn’t that public at all and therefore not trustworthy.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer.

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