Open session comments raise concerns about LGBTQ+ and education

The Board of Education discusses LGBTQ+ topics and the use of body cameras as the school year begins


Courtesy of District 158

The District 158 Board of Education opens up to public comments during every meeting, allowing parents and community members to bring concerns to the board.

By Laura Langkan

On Thursday, Sep. 15, Huntley District 158 held their monthly Board of Education meeting. Six Link Crew leaders from Huntley High School led the Pledge of Allegiance. 

Soon after, the board opened to public comments, most of which were centered around not teaching LGBTQ+ topics to elementary-level students and the plummet in grade levels for many students. Members of the District 158 Parent Union spoke about focusing more on education rather than allowing students to pretend their animals and dress up in animal-like suits. Two of which had decided not to share their names. 

“We depend on the school board for leadership but what so many of us are seeing is a failure to lead,” Jill Cataldo, a member of the Parent Union, said. 

Many of these parents brought up a situation where a Conley Elementary School music teacher made her students sing about what pronouns they use. They talked about how the district is telling them that this teacher was trying to make an inclusive environment but actually ended up making many students and families uncomfortable. 

 “All of this could end if you simply committed to making your sole focus academics and staying out of political lifestyle choices,” a representative from the Parent Union said.

A situation where a seventh grade teacher at Marlowe Middle School has been talking about her lesbian parent lifestyle with students has upset many parents in the parent union. Parents are bringing up how this isn’t appropriate for school and that she shouldn’t talk about it to impressionable 11-year-olds.

 “Our district needs boundaries,” the same member said.

Most parents from the Parent Union brought up how the school should ban discussions about pronouns, gender, and sexuality in school. That these topics are too political for schools and should be kept to one’s personal life. 

Following this, the board of education continued on with their agenda.

Recently, Illinois passed a law saying that all police officers must be wearing body cameras by 2025. So far, Lake in the Hills has adopted this policy and School Resource Officer Sarah Barham is already wearing her body cam. However, Huntley and Algonquin Police Departments have not adopted this policy yet and are looking at a wider range of options. 

“We need to have a policy on how body-worn cameras would be utilized in the school district to not only protect students, the district, and also our officers,” superintendent Scott Rowe said. 

The topic of what the body cameras will film and what their usage of them will be came up. As of right now, the board seems to agree that these body cameras will be used to film situations, like a fight. This footage can be quite useful in the case of schools investigating situations involving students. 

“The police officers are employees of the police department therefore these records, although they are student records, are maintained by the police department,” Rowe said. 

The school district does not have access to this footage, so if it was needed for any reason they would have to request that to the corresponding police department.

Overall, the school board is looking at making the community more comfortable and creating school environments where everyone feels welcome.