Informational packet about gender identity sparks controversy in Cambridge

CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Some local parents were furious after controversial training was nearly given to students.

The training was supposed to teach the students in the Cambridge School District transgender terms, but parents said it crossed a line.

Kimberley Meacham has a grandchild in sixth grade. She was stunned when she saw the contents of the packet.

“That is horrid,” she said. “Can you imagine saying that to an 11 or 12 year old?”

She wasn’t alone. Many parents in Cambridge are furious.

It was part of an informational training session that was going to take place on Monday. Inside of it were definitions to words. Some were gay slurs and others were sexual positions.

“That was slang,” Meacham said. “To me it was soft porn.”

After a review by the staff, the school opted not to do the training or give out the packet to students. But the Pride Center of the Capital Region, who provided the packet, stands by their program.

“This is lifesaving training that we’re providing,” Pride Center Exec. Dir. Martha Harvey said.

She knows some information might seem controversial, but she believes it’s crucial.

“I don’t think I’m being bombastic by saying this training saves lives,” she said.

Harvey said kids are coming out as gay or transgender at much younger ages. By teaching them everything – even some taboo subjects – it helps make them feel more comfortable.

“There are some words that are considered derogatory and hurtful, and it’s important to cover that,” she said. “They need to feel they’re in a safe space; they need to feel that they can express themselves.”

Harvey said if not, statistics show those kids could potentially be in danger.

“Eating disorders, they’re cutting themselves, they’re trying to commit suicide, and some are even succeeding in committing suicides,” she said.

Meacham said she understands Harvey’s side, but she still believes the packet did not need to be so graphic.

“In the world that we live in now, we do need to teach diversity, but that is not diversity,” she said. “That is slang. That is slang porn.”

The program has been taught in other Capital Region schools. So far, Harvey said Cambridge was the only time they’ve received backlash.

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