Kathy McCord, a school counselor at Pendleton Heights High School in Pendleton, Indiana, has been placed on indefinite suspension and is facing termination, apparently in retaliation for leaking a school district policy requiring teachers and counselors to withhold information from parents concerning a student’s struggle with their sexual identity.
McCord furnished a copy of the district’s unpublished “confidential gender support plan” to a reporter along with a copy of an August 2022 email she wrote to school staff advising them not to communicate with parents of a female student concerning her decision to identify as a male, because the family “is not supportive.”
The controversial policy and email was reported by The Daily Signal in early December, which prompted concerned parents to attend a school board meeting of the South Madison Community School Corporation on December 8, where things got heated. A video of the meeting can be found here.
“You should be ashamed,” one mother told Schools Superintendent Mark Hall at the school board meeting. “I trusted you with my children and you lied to me—to us.”
Another parent angrily told the school board, “Every single person here has lied to us parents who have children that we trust you with.”
The board chair, after interjecting that no outbursts would be tolerated from the crowd of parents, ordered one person removed by a police officer after he shouted, “Even if you lied to us?”
The school board defended its actions by pointing to federal nondiscrimination standards applicable to schools that include “gender identity,” standards which are themselves harmful and the product of a worldview that contradicts God’s created order of “male and female” (Genesis 1:27).
Parents at the meeting challenged the applicability of the federal standards, asking how they could possibly translate into a school policy that keeps secrets from them.
One mother named Heather explained that the district has a mandatory duty to report harm done to children by parents, but that the district cannot simply assume or fear that harm may occur and justify keeping important information about their children secret.
“A fear doesn’t justify lying to parents. A fear doesn’t justify putting teachers in a compromising situation by asking them to lie, even through omission,” she told the board.
“If a counselor and/or the administration feels like the parents’ response would be detrimental to the wellbeing of the child, then they have a responsibility to be a mandatory reporter. It is not the responsibility of our schools to decide if how we parent is appropriate or not,” she added.
One teacher at Pendleton High has already resigned, in part because of the policy.
Amanda Keegan, a geography and psychology teacher, told The Daily Signal, “When I had to look at that parent, and feel like I was lying to that parent … I was sick to my stomach.
“I can’t lie to parents. I can’t do that again.”
School board members, who are the ones enacting these controversial policies at schools across the nation, are elected representatives of the public. Parents have every right to vote these anti-family board members out of office, and vote for school boards who will put the family first. Some progress was made in 2022, but much work remains to be done.
Parents, if we won’t protect our kids, who will?
The Family Policy Foundation, an ally of Focus on the Family, has begun a valuable online academy to train potential school board candidates from a biblical worldview, and prepare them for the challenges they will face and equip them for successful service that honors God, protects children, and preserves parental rights.