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Parents, Teachers Divided Over ‘My Shadow Is Pink’ Book in San Diego County School District

Parents, Teachers Divided Over ‘My Shadow Is Pink’ Book in San Diego County School District

Parents and community members at the Encinitas Union School District board meeting, inside and outside the boardroom, on May 21, 2024. (Sophia Fang/The Epoch Times)

Sophia Fang

Sophia Fang

5/23/2024

Updated: 5/23/2024

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Should the book “My Shadow Is Pink'' be used in K-6 classrooms and should the parents be informed about it beforehand?
These questions drew an unusually large crowd to the Encinitas Union School District (EUSD) board meeting on May 21.
Encinitas is a small coastal city in northern San Diego County with a population of just over 61,000.
Hours before the meeting started, teachers, parents, and community members formed a long line outside the district office boardroom. About half of the people were allowed in, due to fire safety codes; the rest had to stay outside and follow the meeting via live streaming.
The attendees were split. Among them were parents, teachers, former students, and community members. All teachers who spoke at the board meeting supported using the book. Those opposed said that EUSD is using kids to groom kids (through the kinderbuddy program) and that parents have the right to know what their children are exposed to at school.

Parents’ Rights

It all started with a fifth-grade boy at La Costa Heights Elementary telling his parents that “he was upset about being made to sit through a video presentation of ‘My Shadow Is Pink’ with a 5-year-old kindergarten buddy,” according to the boy’s father, Carlos Encinas.
The father recounts the situation in a video posted on May 8. He said that the parents had no idea that the book was read in his 11-year-old son’s classroom and then the fifth-graders had to watch the full video of the book with their kindergarten buddies. The “kinderbuddy” program is implemented in many elementary schools, where an upper grade student is paired with a kindergartener and acts as a mentor, through meetings once or twice a week.
This triggered strong reactions from both sides, which culminated in the stuffed EUSD boardroom.
“As parents we have the right to know what our children are being exposed to, especially when it involves sensitive topics like gender identity,” Encinas said at the board meeting.
He went on to comment about the school leadership’s response to the parents’ concerns as “nothing short of disappointing. The principal and PTA organized a ‘pink out the hate’ event. … It’s an outright attempt to dismiss the feelings of our children, and intimidate parents who might hold different views. … Our children deserve an education that respects family values and parental rights.”
A young man, who said he is a father-to-be, held a sign that said, “Stop Grooming Our Kids” along with Bible verses. He called the act of reading the book to children “wicked indoctrination” and “abominable actions.”
The crowd packed the boardroom, and a similar number were outside following a live stream. (Sophia Fang/The Epoch Times)

The crowd packed the boardroom, and a similar number were outside following a live stream. (Sophia Fang/The Epoch Times)

A father who is a veteran told The Epoch Times while waiting in line before the meeting that he had moved his children out of the district to a private school four years ago, and that he was there to support the parents who oppose what he called the school’s indoctrination of kids.
One parent opposing the practice said that “shadows have no color,” and that schools should give the parents the right to know what is being taught in the classrooms.
A woman at the board meeting said, “We the people have the freedom to opt out. We are going to opt out as Christians. If you don’t accept our opt out, we’ll see you in court.”

‘Inclusive Environments’

Many among those who sat in the front of the room were EUSD teachers, who wore blue jackets with a logo that said, “Teachers of Encinitas.” A document on the EUSD website says Teachers of Encinitas is an authorized chapter of the California Teachers’ Association affiliated with the National Education Association.
Several teachers spoke at the meeting. One female teacher said, “The California inclusivity and nondiscrimination law mandates that public schools provide inclusive environments for all students … to accommodate diversity of all students. … I am proud to be a teacher at a district with a fantastic school board that supports the vision of an equitable world, follows both federal and state laws and supports the teachers to implement this vision.”
A recent graduate of Columbia University who grew up in the district spoke in support of the teachers, saying she wished she had been given the opportunity to read that book when she was in elementary school.
Many young parents expressed their support for the teachers and the school board. A young parent said she had no problem with her child reading the book and participating in a classroom activity related to the book, and that her child chose to paint the shadow yellow. Some parents said they felt welcome in the district and there is nowhere else they want to live.
The official version of the book can be found on YouTube Kids and YouTube (video), where the book is described as “a beautifully written rhyming story that touches on the subjects of gender identity, self acceptance, equality, and diversity.”
There were 61 people who submitted the public comment slips. Everyone was promised a chance to speak for two minutes. The public comments lasted for hours, while the board members and school administration staff sat quietly and listened.
Encinitas Union School District board members and superintendent at the meeting on May 21, 2024. (Sophia Fang/The Epoch Times)

Encinitas Union School District board members and superintendent at the meeting on May 21, 2024. (Sophia Fang/The Epoch Times)

EUSD, consisting of nine elementary schools, issued an official response the day after the board meeting. The entirety of it reads, “Encinitas Union School District prides itself on fostering a climate and culture of belonging and inclusion. Our schools are dynamic learning environments reflecting a broad range of diverse backgrounds and perspectives. This book was selected for this classroom because of its message of encouraging students to be proud of who they are and that it is OK to embrace individuality.”
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Sophia Fang

Sophia Fang

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Sophia Fang is a U.S.-based freelance writer for The Epoch Times.

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