The school year just started, but Chloe Bressack, a new fifth-grade teacher at Canopy Oaks Elementary School in Florida, has already faced outrageous discrimination after sending a letter home to parents informing them of their pronouns.
Bressack is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. For the students, that means calling their teacher Mx. (pronounced "mix") Bressack, rather than Mr. or Ms. While Bressack states in the letter that they're well aware some kids would struggle to use the correct pronouns and that that's okay because this is a learning experience, some parents were furious that they were asking kids to use gender-neutral pronouns at all. The letter was a subject of heated debate after it was posted to the Tally Moms Stay Connected Facebook page, according to USA Today.
In a second letter addressing any confusion their first letter may have caused, Bressack wrote, "My practice in addressing my students is to refer to them by their personal pronouns, be they ‘he, she, or they.’ We work together to create a positive environment of respect and understanding."
An "environment of respect and understanding" seems like the best place for elementary school students (or anyone, really), but parents were concerned that Mx. Bressack would confuse their children. Even former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee weighed in on the debate, telling the Washington Times (which misgendered Bressack in their article) that he would "yank [his] kid out of a classroom."
"There’s no way that I would let my child be influenced by someone who is so devoid of common sense that they don’t understand that there are men and women, boys and girls. I’m appalled by that," Huckabee said.
As a response to the backlash, Canopy Oaks removed Bressack from their classroom and placed them as a teacher in the adult basic education program, according to Queerty. "Given the complexity of this issue, we both agreed a different environment would be best for Teacher Bressack’s educational career and for the young students at Canopy Oaks," superintendent Rocky Hanna said in a statement shared with Queerty.
Bressack's supporters are concerned that the move was against the teacher's will, but Bressack has declined to speak to media so we can't know whether or not that's true.
Parents in support of Bressack have filed together to write letters showing the teacher that not everyone in the school community was against them, and thanking them for being open about gender identity with the kids in their class.
Jessica Nichols started a Facebook event called, "Letters of Support to Mx Bressack" to thank the teacher. "Thank you. It's not an easy thing to take a stance and to put yourself out there like that. I think it was very brave and I think it was done really respectfully," Nichols wrote.
Even with some parents' support, though, Bressack was still taken away from those fifth-grade students, who likely wouldn't have had a problem with their teacher's gender identity. As Chris Sands, of the Tellahasse chapter of PFLAG said to The Washington Post, this issue really lies with the parents' personal discriminatory beliefs. "I think the reaction that’s happening is loud, vocal, irrational, and coming more from parents than students," Sands said. "I think most kids accept it."
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