Former teacher says social-emotional learning now ‘more about pushing ideologies’

The former teacher explained that she was a proponent of social-emotional learning, but has seen it morph into something that is "more about pushing ideologies."

Lindsay Bednar, a parent of two students, speaks at an Oct. 23 Anoka-Hennepin board meeting. (Anoka-Hennepin School District)

Parents spoke out at an Anoka-Hennepin school board meeting last week, raising concerns regarding district policies surrounding gender.

“I cannot condone, nor stand by, as our state and district leaders make it okay for a young man to change in a female locker room, a child to change in a teacher’s office, or the district hiding gender transitions from children’s own parents,” Steve Kalina wrote in a Facebook post sharing a video of his speech. “Parents were not informed of policy changes, and had no chance to at least prepare for, and understand them.”

Kalina, the parent of three students in the district, spoke at an Oct. 23 meeting where he explained that he believes every child should have a safe environment in which to learn.

“I am concerned that district policies are now jeopardizing those rights,” he said to the board. He said that while he understands that many of the decisions are in the state’s hands, he proceeded to outline things that he felt were concerning from the Anoka-Hennepin handbook.

The handbook stipulates that transgender and gender nonconforming students are permitted to use any and all facilities that are “consistent with their gender identity,” he said.

“This means any student can determine what bathroom or locker room they would like to use. A 16-year-old girl could walk into the girl’s locker room, find a young man with his body exposed, and there’s nothing the school or the parents can do about it,” Kalina said.

Another parent and former Anoka-Hennepin teacher also spoke out at the meeting about the potential dangers of social-emotional learning. “Being supportive of any given community is not a singular pathway. Challenging policies does not equate to a lack of support, but rather, it questions the route to provide the best support possible,” Lindsay Bednar, a parent of two students, wrote in a Facebook post.

She explained in her speech to the board that she was a proponent of social-emotional learning as a teacher, helping districts implement it in their curricula.

“I have witnessed in recent years that social-emotional learning has become less about improving a student’s emotional intelligence, as it was intended, and more about pushing ideologies,” Bednar said to the board.

“There are two ideologies that I will address tonight that have become embedded in social-emotional learning within the Anoka-Hennepin district. Issue number one: kids should not be sexualized. We do not need books on exploring sexuality — gay, straight, or otherwise — in schools. We do not need teachers asking students about their pronouns. And worse, we do not need teachers asking students if they have a preferred pronoun that they want kept secret from their parents,” she said.

The district previously told Alpha News that staff are required to consult with parents before using a student’s preferred name and pronouns.

Both Bednar and Kalina encouraged voters to make their voices heard in the Nov. 7 school board election.


Hayley Feland

Hayley Feland previously worked as a journalist with The Minnesota Sun, The Wisconsin Daily Star, and The College Fix. She is a Minnesota native with a passion for politics and journalism.