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Granby parents meet with school board to discuss Pride video shown in school

Granby resident Nick D’Amato (right) argues with community members after going past his speaking time during a Granby Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, June 7, 2023 in Granby, Conn. Members of the Granby community showed up to voice their comments to the board relating to a Pride Month video that discusses gender identification shown at Wells Road Intermediate School. (Joe Buglewicz/Connecticut Public)
Joe Buglewicz
Connecticut Public
Nick D’Amato (right) argues with community members after going past his speaking time during a Granby Board of Education meeting. Members of the Granby community showed up to voice their comments to the board relating to a Pride Month video that discusses gender identification shown at Wells Road Intermediate School.

Parents in Granby attended a Board of Education meeting at town hall Wednesday to discuss a Pride Month video shown to students at Wells Road Intermediate School.

The 45-second video, produced by NBC Universal, featured several elementary school-aged kids talking about Pride Month and what pride means to them. They expressed the gender identity they feel most comfortable with and expressed what it’s like to have LGBTQ+ parents.

“Pride means a person can be whoever they want to be in their heart. The fact that I can say I like to be called a boy makes me feel happy inside,” a participant in the video said.

Some parents say they are upset they were never told the video would be shown to their kids. They believe they should’ve had a say in the matter and that it should be up to them to discuss gender identity with their children.

Matt Brady, a parent of a transgender student at Granby Memorial Middle School, says the video was about teaching kids that some of their classmates are different, and that’s OK.

“This video is about acceptance, about not marginalizing kids like Colleen who simply want to feel good about who they are,” Brady said.

Kate Ciriello, a parent of a student at Wells Road Intermediate School, said she doesn’t agree with parents who say their kids are too young to hear about these topics. She said her child came home one day and explained that another child was being bullied because of openly identifying as a part of the LGBTQ+ community.

“The unfortunate reality is that there is a pervasive anti-LGBTQ culture among the students at our schools despite the efforts of our administration,” Ciriello said.

“These topics are alive and well and our students are discussing them with or without us so we have to be a part of the conversation. As a community we have to make sure all students feel safe at school.”

Jay Brown, a former student, said teaching children to be open to and inclusive would be beneficial to those who are looking for a sense of belonging.

“Growing up and going to the Granby schools, I had nothing to show me ‘Hey, there are trans people, there are gay people in the world,'” Brown said. “That’s something that would’ve made me a lot happier growing up. I suffered with extreme depression during middle and the begining of high school before I found out who I was.”

WFSB obtained a letter sent to parents by Pauline Greer, the principal of Wells Road Intermediate School.

“It certainly was not intended to alienate or disturb any child. In context, we were trying to remind students that it is ok to be who you are and still be treated with respect, dignity, and kindness,” Greer said.

Jordan Grossman, superintendent of Granby Public Schools, says the district understands parents' concerns about the contents of the video and those who support Greer, who chose to show the video.

“The district will work to communicate more effectively in the future with our families as we move forward together to best serve our students and to continue to build a supportive and respectful environment for all in our Granby Public Schools,” Grossman said.

The Daily Mail reported parents were also upset their children were sent home with puberty kits. The subject was brought up at the school board meeting by an attendee. The kits have been distributed for years, according to Board of Education member Monica Logan who also said parents were notified in advance.

Heather Lombardo, a parent of a fifth grader at Wells Road Intermediate School, says in their town, an overwhelming majority supports the LGBTQ+ community. Those who aren’t, she says, are spreading their personal beliefs and may not be as open to being inclusive.

“I think the topic overall is scary for some adults who haven’t quite figured out how to wrap their heads around it,” Lombardo said.

“It can be intimidating when you have a community saying, ‘You should figure it out’ and ‘You have to have this conversation with your kids,'" Lombardo said. "I understand that. But from those uncomfortable conversations comes evolution and comes growth. It’s important for all of us as parents to lean into that.”

This story has been updated.

Lesley Cosme Torres is an Education Reporter at Connecticut Public. She reports on education inequities across the state and also focuses on Connecticut's Hispanic and Latino residents, with a particular focus on the Puerto Rican community. Her coverage spans from LGBTQ+ discrimination in K-12 schools, book ban attempts across CT, student mental health concerns, and more. She reports out of Fairfield county and Hartford.

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