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Michigan School Cancels Pronoun Lesson After Online Harassment Leads to Staff Members Feeling Unsafe at Work

In response to severe online harassment, a Michigan elementary school has decided to cancel a planned lesson on pronouns. 

This educational initiative aimed at promoting inclusivity at Schavey Road Elementary School in DeWitt has been met with significant opposition, prompting concerns over staff safety.

The optional mini-lesson was intended for first-graders to introduce the concept of pronouns, including they/them, as part of a broader effort to foster an inclusive environment. 

The curriculum was to include reading They, She, He, Me: Free to Be! by authors Matthew Sg and Maya Christina Gonzalez.

Superintendent Shanna Spickard initially supported the lesson as a way to ensure all students felt understood. 

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However, the backlash led to its cancellation to protect staff and student well-being, with Spickard claiming multiple staff members felt “afraid to go to school.”

The controversy ignited after conservative groups and social media amplified a local news clip that failed to specify the lesson’s optional nature. 

This misunderstanding contributed to widespread outrage and misinformation.

Following the publicity, school staff experienced increasing threats, including doxxing — publishing private information online — as well as hostile calls and messages. 

These actions have created a climate of fear among the educators.

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Due to the threats, DeWitt Public Schools increased police presence and administrative oversight as precautionary steps to safeguard its staff and students, emphasizing the district’s commitment to safety.

State Rep. Steve Carra publicly criticized the lesson, reflecting a broader political debate over educational content related to gender identity. 

His comments intensified the discussion surrounding the school’s curriculum decisions.

“Hire me to teach the kids. ‘Little Jack, you’re a boy even if you pretend to be a girl. Other people shouldn’t be forced to pretend along with you. Your pronouns are he/him.’ Great, now back to reading, writing, and arithmetic…” wrote Rep. Carra in a social media post.

The incident occurs against a backdrop where several states are integrating LGBTQ+ topics into their educational standards, recognizing the importance of inclusive education. 

However, the approach varies significantly across the United States.

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In a public statement, Superintendent Spickard expressed regret over the need to cancel the lesson but reaffirmed the district’s dedication to inclusivity and respect for all students, regardless of the external pressures faced.

“The mini-lesson is not designed to challenge or alter family beliefs,” she said. “Instead, it aims to ensure a safe and respectful learning environment.”

As this situation unfolds, it highlights the ongoing national debate over how schools should handle subjects related to gender and identity. 

It underscores the challenges educators face in balancing educational goals with community and political expectations.