- Last year, Kaelin Swaney, a kindergarten teacher from Rocklin Academy Gateway, was the center of controversy when she decided to share a book about a transgender child during a story time.
- Despite the criticisms she earned for her actions particularly from conservative groups, Swaney was awarded teacher of the year by the California Charter Schools Association.
- Even in the midst of being subjected to hateful rhetoric following the incident, Swaney continued to show up at school every day.
A school association awarded a kindergarten teacher who read a transgender book according to the latest transgender news by the Sacramento Bee and posted on March 29.
Last year, Kaelin Swaney, a kindergarten teacher from Rocklin Academy Gateway, was the center of controversy when she decided to share a book about a transgender child during a story time.
Teacher of the year
Despite the criticisms she earned for her actions particularly from conservative groups, Swaney was awarded teacher of the year by the California Charter Schools Association.
The controversy started with the book ‘I am Jazz’, a story about Jazz Jeannings, a transgender girl. The book was brought to the school by a trans student at the end of the previous school year.
It became the focal point of ideological conflict, ignited condemnation on social media and conservative online pages, and attracted over 500 people to a noisy and emotional school board meeting last year.
Safe learning environment
Last March 26, Swaney was honoured for her dedication in creating a safe learning environment for all children. She was awarded the Hart Vision Teacher of the year during the annual conference in San Diego.
“We are really very proud of Kaelin,” Robin Stout, Rocklin Academy Family of Schools executive director, said. “She is an outstanding teacher – always putting kids first.”
Even in the midst of being subjected to hateful rhetoric following the incident, Swaney continued to show up at school every day.
Stout remarked, “We had to provide a security guard, and for her to show up every single day among the controversy and to still be there for her kids was very remarkable.”
Not everyone was happy though. Karen England, executive director of the Capital Research Institute, and Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Just Institute, expressed their displeasure about the award.
“(It) speaks volumes to the ears of concerned parents throughout California who are considering charter schools for their children,” Dacus stated.
Lost a few, gained many
England claimed that parents were pulling out their student at the end of the school as a response to the award.
Following the issue over the book last year, the charter school system lost 90 students. However, it currently has a thousand students on waiting list and another thousand vying for enrolment.
The teachers had not heard any negative response about the honor bestowed on Swaney. Stout, in particular, hoped that the prestigious distinction would not create the same controversy it had last year.
“I think, like in the fall, we want to get back to teaching and learning and the political agenda is getting in the way and that is disheartening,” she explained. “We want to get back to the work that we do.”
The way educational institutions discuss issues such as transgender identity is covered under the state law, the Fair Education Act, which required public schools to include in educational textbooks contributions made by minorities, such as the disabled and members of the LGBT community.