Parents of students at a California elementary school learned over the weekend that their children were housed with biologically male counselors during a school trip to Camp Pali.
Students from Weaver Elementary School in Los Alamitos, California taking part in a science camp in San Bernardino spent three nights in cabins with older counselors.
After returning home, a group of fifth-grade girls told their parents they were assigned to a cabin with non-binary, biologically male counselors who use they/them pronouns.
Parents concerned about the arrangement contacted the Los Alamitos Unified School District for clarification.
“I contacted the school and asked them if they were able to confirm that there was not a man actually sleeping in the same cabin as the girls. They were not able to confirm that,” said Rachel Sandoval, a parent at Weaver Elementary, to KDVR.
The parents have said they wished the district had informed them of the housing logistics and that prior knowledge of the gender policy may have altered their decision to send their children on the trip.
“If I was aware of it and I had initialed something saying this was going to be done at this outdoor science camp, I would have kept my child home,” said parent Suzy Johnson. “No parent should feel the way I feel after knowing what could have happened to my daughter.”
The assistant director of Camp Pali, Emily Teige, told reporters that camp counselors are housed “in cabins they identify with.” Teige said the policy complies with California law.
Camp Pali requires all of its staff to be over the age of 18 and notes the majority of its staff is over the age of 20. The organization notes parents might “be concerned about who is watching [their] children while they’re away.”
“It’s every parent’s goal to protect their children, and this should be a camp program’s number one concern as well,” says Camp Pali on its website.
Through a spokesperson, the school district told KTLA that it is investigating the parents’ concerns and is taking the complaints seriously.
Los Alamitos Unified School District has come under fire in recent weeks for adopting a social justice-focused ethics studies curriculum for a high school elective course which was developed by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Learning for Justice group. The program had divided the community with many parents and students opposing its adoption.