Updated: Oct 22
by: Sloan Rachmuth
Leaders at Beaufort County Community College took immediate action after learning that minor students were exposed to sexual propaganda during a health class. The “Gender Unicorn” handout normalizing transgenderism and “gender fluidity” was distributed to high school students by an instructor employed by the school.
The worksheet invites students to consider their gender identity and gender expression, declare their sex "assigned at birth," and choose who they're sexually and emotionally attracted to.
Even though the class was taught by a community college instructor, Beaufort County Early College High School students are required to take it as part of their graduation requirements.
After reading the worksheet her child brought home, a Beaufort mom told EFA,” I was so mad that I was afraid of causing a ruckus if I complained in person.”
When another parent contacted the school, he was assured the problem had been quickly resolved. Administrators told the parent that the handout was outside the standards of the high school health curriculum.
“That kind of assignment will never be acceptable in Beaufort County schools,” said Superintendent Dr. Matthew Cheeseman during EFA’s follow-up interview.
“The Board of Education does not approve of this assignment.”
Dr. Cheeseman said that parents sign a waiver explaining that minor students may be exposed to age-advanced material in the Early College. Although parents assume the risks of enrollment, administrators work to ensure inappropriate materials do not reach children, said the Superintendent.
North Carolina has 118 high schools partnering with community colleges, including Beaufort Early College High School. While working towards graduation, students earn college credits. Many students graduate with an associate degree, while others with workforce credentials or certificates.
TALE OF TWO EARLY COLLEGES
There is a stark difference between the response of the Beaufort County and the Forsyth County school districts when facing parents’ concerns over sexual agendas at school.
In March, Forsyth Technical Community College catapulted to the national spotlight for a raucous drag show held on campus. It was offered by the school's LGBTQ club and open to students as young as 14.
During the show, a male performer straddled a young girl, thrusting his genitals inches from her face. Laughter filled the room as adults watched.
At first, video of the show was shared via Meta (formerly Facebook). Local backlash came swiftly.
Parents claimed high schoolers were notified via email that there would be free pizza at the on-campus restaurant, but no mention was made of drag queen performances.
Forsyth Community College officials initially issued this statement to national group, Libs of Tic Tok:
“Forsyth Tech is committed to being a place of promise for our students. In order to fulfill that promise, we have clearly spelled out our mission, vision, and equity statements. These students, like all college students, are open to attend any student event.”
College officials insisted the performance was proper, despite knowing minors attended.
After sustained media pressure, the K-12 school district and the community college agreed to limit access to inappropriate events for minors.
Beaufort Early College High School and Beaufort Community College seem to coordinate well. This symbiosis likely explains why the high school is among the top performing in the state.
Beaufort Early College High School has received an A on state accountability reports since 2014. Last year, 95 percent of its 275 high schoolers scored proficient in biology and English compared to around 60% in all North Carolina schools.
Its math scores are more impressive. Students at Early High scored proficient in Math I at a rate of 95% compared to only 41% at the state level.
The school seems like a model for others to follow. National education leaders agree.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona recently named Beaufort Early College High School as a National Blue Ribbon School for 2023.
According to the Blue Ribbon website, schools are honored in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, subgroup student scores, and graduation rates:
Exemplary High Performing Schools are among their state’s highest-performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.
Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools are among their state’s highest-performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s subgroups and all students over the past five years.
The school will be recognized at a ceremony in Washington, DC, in November.