Segregation and Sorting as Community Building?

CA school: black parents in this room, white parents in that room, Latino parents over there please

If people want to pay $45,000 for a school that thinks the best way to build community is to segregate people by race, religion, and sexual orientation, so be it. Parents have the freedom to leave the school at any time. The Brentwood School in California may be what some parents of means are looking for—and while I’m not sure their actions are legal, if they are, people can spend their money however they choose.

Click here to see all the different meeting times for people based on their race, creed and sexual orientation.

There is increasing evidence that the now billion dollar industry of DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) has been hijacked by people whose goal is not to build community or increase understanding but to stoke division and bring us back to a time where people were judged and sorted by race. And creed. And sexual orientation. Known by people in the biz as affinity groups, this sorting based on immutable characteristics is not new in this country. But what is unfathomable is that people would want to return and replicate one of the greatest stains on our nation’s history—and pay gobs of money to do it.

The Boy Scouts are no longer called The Boy Scouts because it wasn't inclusive enough — they are now The Scouts. But children in a growing number of schools are being compelled to identify their gender identity, sexual identity, race, religion and then decide where they fall on the spectrum of oppression. Young friends of different races and religions who love to play tag, build with blocks and dress their dolls together are now forced to see their life long buddies as their oppressors who may want to hurt them.

Female students are being told that they are oppressed even though they outperform their brothers on every single academic and well-being metric we have. White students are being shamed by teachers for their privilege—and the white boy from a poor family with an abusive parent who dropped out of high school is forced to say that he has more privilege than the black girl whose parents are college professors and for whom home is a sanctuary. Asian students and their families find themselves erased from the conversation because their educational and professional success does not align neatly with their “people of color” label. Some go as far to call them “white adjacent.”

Children are being forced to learn about and wrestle with topics that are developmentally inappropriate and completely confusing to them. 8-year-olds should not be hearing words in school like "sexual identity" and "cisgender.” They are still babies who believe in Santa Claus and curl up in their parents’ laps when they need comfort.

Parents should not have to hear their 3rd grade son say, “mommy, my teacher told me today that just because I have a penis doesn’t mean I’m a boy.”

But it’s happening.

Parents should not have to hear their 4th grade daughter say, “did you know we were born with the original sin of white privilege and that my brothers are oppressors?”

But it’s happening.

Anyone who has followed my work for any length of time knows that my heart has been in school choice advocacy for a decade. I have always believed that parents, regardless of income or zip code, deserve the self determination that comes with having options. That children have all kinds of different needs and that no one school or school district can ever be a fit for all children.

But the more I see evidence of schools diving head first into gender theory, critical race theory and queer theory, the more urgent the issue of school choice becomes. No parent should be zoned to a school that shames and sorts children based on their immutable characteristics. Period.

Between schools that haven’t opened in ten months and curriculum that forces children to grapple with complex topics in a completely reductive way, parents need educational life-boats. I personally know people who want this in their children’s schools — great, they can have it (at least until lawsuits shut it down.) But parents who see this as not only inappropriate and harmful but also racist, sexist and bigoted need an escape hatch and access to it cannot be dependent on income.

Writer’s note: I am not linking to the examples of the 3rd and 4th grader because it would compromise the privacy of the children’s parents and the children themselves.