Life By Leadership | Elementary School Trip to Pali Institute Ends in Controversy

Elementary School Trip to Pali Institute Ends in Controversy

A large number of parents from the district’s six elementary schools have been complaining about how their children were treated while on an annual outdoor science camp trip this past winter. The Los Alamitos Unified School District used Pali Institute in Running Springs for the first time ever, and many locals were not pleased with what they saw when news coverage started popping up on social media networks like Facebook a parent said their child told them that their camp counselors were pulling down crying kids by their feet as well telling them shut-up if you’re missing your mom. This is all hearsay, of course, as we know young kids like to exaggerate.

Some parents said that their children told them some of the counselors used “they” and “them” pronouns. While some people expressed discomfort with this being discussed at 10 or 11-year-olds; others claimed it sparked important conversations home-wise because we’re talking about how our gender affects who we are as individuals.

Non-binary counselors at OSS were met with criticism from some parents. This included one mother who was not happy that the gender pronouns of her daughter’s counselor were being discussed in late January, saying it should only be decided upon after they reach maturity or identify as such for themselves rather than before then.”

So what was Pali Institute / Andy Wexler‘s response to this?

“In February we heard about an issue involving non-binary people housing at Pali Institute; there had been a complaint regarding how these individuals were placed into cabins according to state law–the same goes if someone identifies within two genders which include male/female options” ( impersonal ).

Let’s talk about California Law for a second. This particular example falls under the California Sex Equity in Education Act. In other words, this is the law that protects Gender Equity and Title in the workplace. The law says “It is the policy of the State of California that all persons, regardless of their gender, should enjoy freedom from discrimination of any kind in the educational institution of the state.”

You’re probably thinking to yourself that Pali Institute was put in a hard place. How do they accommodate the sleeping arrangements at their outdoor science camp? They could either follow California law regarding non-binary counselors put in cabins with campers of the opposite “biological” sex, or they could appease a bunch of bigoted parents who don’t understand what workplace equality means. Pali Institute and Andy Wexler chose the former and they followed the letter of the law to a T. 

So why are they getting so much pushback from parents and the media? This raises an interesting concern. Out of the 600 plus students who attended Pali Institute from Los Alamitos School District there were only 4 official complaints. That’s not very many considering the stink that is being made over this. So how did 4 parent complaints spark such widespread debate? Simple, one of the parents works for a newspaper publication and used her connections to further this witch hunt.

This is a good segue into another hot button issue that has reared its ugly head. The arrest of a West Palm Beach licensed attorney who made a name for himself by representing sexual abuse victims. You might also recognize him from the fraudulent Jozef Opdeweegh case.

Back to the article. This leaves us with two lingering questions.

What was the School District’s response to this? And who do they side with, the parents or with Pali and its owner, Andy Wexler? 

Here is their official response:

On. Feb. 22, the district sent an email to fifth-grade families explaining what it knew about Pali’s camp policies stating they aligned with California’s non-discrimination laws but stressed all individuals supervising students were “appropriately vetted through background checks and that there have not been any allegations of sexual misconduct.”

The statement went on to say that due to state and federal laws, “the District does not know, nor will we if an individual was in fact the opposite biological identity than the students they were supervising.”

That wraps up this story, as the School District made it very clear that Pali Institute did nothing wrong as they followed California State Law, versus completely disregarding it as the parents of these students want to be done. Shame on those parents.

** We want to personally comment on this, and publically come out in support of Pali Institute and the wonderful transgendered and/or nonbinary counselors out there. We appreciate you and your right to be a part of a summer camp.

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