CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Governor Henry McMaster has called on the Charleston County School Board to prohibit instruction related to gender identity without parental knowledge or consent.

In his letter to the school board, Gov. McMaster said it was brought to his attention that CCSD personnel distributed copies of an article, “I am Leo,” to students attending a health class at Camp Road Middle School without parental knowledge.

The article follows Leo Lipson, a 16 year old who shares what it is like to grow up transgender and how people can be an ally to those who are trans.

One letter from a parent said they were shocked and appalled to discover the material was distributed to the class after previously requesting a look at the 7th-grade curriculum.

“Not only does it talk about taking hormone blockers and physically changing your body (wearing a chest binder to smash her breasts flat and taking testosterone), but it encourages children to seek help and advice from social media and the internet! It is completely dismantling family values! This article appears to glorify the gender changing process, without highlighting any of the well documented negative mental and physical changes,” the parent wrote.

That parent said they requested a meeting with the school’s principal to discuss the assignment. The parent, whose name was redacted, said the principal alleged the lesson was not approved by anyone and was looped in with a previous lesson plan.

CCSD said that an investigation was launched after the district was made aware of parent concerns. They found that an assignment was left with a substitute teacher for a PE class to complete.

“According to the enclosed letter, students were also assigned questions to answer based on their reading. I have not received a copy of any questions or other materials provided to children; however, I am told CCSD has thus far refused to provide this documentation to parents upon request,” said McMaster in his letter to CCSD Board Chair Eric Mack and the school board.

McMaster said he wanted the district to restore and prioritize parental involvement in the classroom by prohibiting instructional materials on gender identity from being distributed or utilized without parents’ knowledge or consent.

CCSD said that the district addressed the issue promptly. District leaders “determined the assignment did not align with state and district policies” and the following letter was sent to parents of impacted children on September 15:

Dear Camp Road Families,

Following concerns shared by parents, we have determined that content was shared with students in a PE/health class involving topics that were not in accordance with the Comprehensive Health Act from the South Carolina State Department of Education.

At Camp Road, moving forward, instructional materials utilized within the classroom by teachers will adhere to the Comprehensive Health Act requirements.

We want to be sure you know that if you choose for your child not to participate in the growth and development portion of the Health class, Parent Opt Out forms can be completed.  Parents can expect that opt-out forms are sent out before the material is covered in the course.  For your review, curriculum materials can be found at CCSD Comprehensive Health Plan.

We appreciate the feedback provided and the ongoing dialogue with families that has allowed us to respond to concerns and make adjustments to our practice. 

Respectfully,

Ms. Rowehl

CCSD also said that school administrators are still available to meet with parents who have questions or concerns about the matter.

District spokesman Andy Pruitt told News 2 that educators are expected to assign work that aligns with the standards they are responsible for teaching. “When the regular teacher needs a substitute for any length of time, the teacher should be prepared to provide either a lesson plan or an assignment that aligns with the standards for their class,” he said in a statement.