Jeanette Ward Blasts School Policy, Says Kindergarten No Place For Sex Lessons

Dissatisfied with a Casper school board meeting Monday, Rep. Jeanette Ward told Cowboy State Daily that she finds it, “very curious and shocking when educators or former educators get angry because they can’t have conversations about sexual orientation with kindergartners.”

Dale Killingbeck

June 11, 20246 min read

Natrona county school district building and jeanette ward 6 11 24
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

CASPER — Natrona County School District 1 has updated its parental rights policies to conform to new mandates passed by the Wyoming Legislature earlier this year, but a local state legislator says they don’t go far enough because they don’t address using preferred pronouns of transgender students without parental approval.

The school board Monday approved on an 8-1 vote tightening down on parental rights for families in the district ahead of a July 1 deadline, but not before some criticized the Legislature.

Board President Kevin Christopherson chastised legislators for giving school districts so little time to deal with the issue of parental control while a kindergarten teacher and local union official said the new policy will complicate teachers’ lives.

State Rep. Jeannette Ward, R-Casper, attended the meeting and told the board she’s disappointed that the district policy’s language seems too soft and gives wiggle room for “staff to shield a student’s desired ‘social transition’ from parents” a key reason the legislation was passed.

She also sparred with a kindergarten teacher in the district over what’s appropriate to teach kids that age.

“I am disappointed that the proposed definition of ‘change in a student’s educational, physical, mental or emotional health or well-being’ does not include desire to be referred to by a different name or pronouns,” she said. “That was the whole point of Senate File 9, Parental Rights in Education. Please consider addressing this concern as I am here tonight as a legislator who was witness to the intentions of the Wyoming Legislature in this matter.”

Board Trustee Kyla Alvey, who chair’s the district’s Policy Committee, said that “our hands were kind of tied by the state Legislature” as the committee worked through the information contained in the policy — much of which she said the district already had in its policies.

“We tried to keep it a little bit larger, but teachers still have the ability to work the best way with their knowledge because they are the ones who work directly with the students,” she said. “It is going to be a learning curve for everybody so please take it easy on your teachers as this is newly implemented.”

‘Shall Notify’

Under the policy, the district “shall notify” a student’s parent or guardian as practicable if a school district employee has actual notice of a change in the student’s educational, physical, mental or emotional health or well-being. The building administrator shall document the notification.”

Ward reminded the board that the policy was enacted because in a “different school district in our state a young student was put on the track to socially transition without the knowledge of her parents. Some school staff used different names and pronouns for her — a decision that is not to be made without parental involvement — period.”

Dirk Andrews, a kindergarten teacher and teacher organization representative, told the board he was disappointed with the Legislature’s law. He said the new policy would make more work for elementary teachers.

“As a kindergarten teacher, we have social studies standards that focus on the family unit. Kindergarten teachers will have to have parents opt in (for students) to be taught social studies standards,” he said. “If I am teaching about the family unit, that would include topics around heterosexual families as well as LGBTQ+ families. And the way I read this policy, I will have to have parents opt in to be taught social studies standards.

“Secondly, this policy is basically requiring educators to violate students’ rights and out them to their parents or guardians if we have actual knowledge.”

Ward told Cowboy State Daily that kindergarten teachers have no place teaching kindergartners about sexual orientation.

“Kindergartners are learning to count and tie their shoes,” she said. “It is the role of parents to teach that subject to their children. I think it is very curious and shocking when educators or former educators get angry because they can’t have conversations about sexual orientation with kindergartners.”

Trustee Mary Schmidt, a member of the Policy Committee, said she supports the parental right’s policy and called it a compromise. She said the Legislature acted in response to “many of the citizens across the state, maybe not in this school district specifically.”

“Ultimately, this policy is important. I don’t think it will affect the curriculum or standards,” she said. “I understand certain people want certain things taught and others want other things taught, but ultimately we must as a school district first and foremost always respect the parental rights.”

‘Less Teaching, More Spying’

Trustee Thomas Myler said he agreed with the overall concept of the policy that parents should be informed. He said he believes the district does a good job of that overall.

“In this district we very much support parental rights,” he said. “What I disagree with is that this will have little effect on teachers. I find it a little ironic that some in our Legislature want to have our teachers focus on teaching, yet we have a policy and a bill that requires them to do more than teach. I guess the best way to say it is ‘less teaching, more spying’ in a way.”

The board voted 8-1 to pass the policy with Trustee Michael Stedillie voting against it as a matter of principle and because the state mandate does not take effect until July 1.

“The reason I am against it is not because I don’t think parents should be informed,” he said. “I personally think this one has too many unintended consequences … but I am still following law because it (the bill) isn’t law yet.”

Christopherson said the district did not have a choice about the policy and that the Legislature gave schools little time to get their updated policies in place.

“This is ridiculous we had to shoehorn two meetings in where we had not scheduled just to do this,” he said. “You can’t pass a law that is this vague and not have the purpose that they wrote the law anywhere in it. We all know what the law is about, but it doesn’t say it in the law.

“So, we have to come up with a vague policy to cover a vague law in a short amount of time. It is a ridiculous way to do law in this state, so shame on you boys.”

The Legislature passed the bill at its budget session earlier this year following a controversy in the Rock Springs School District.

Parents there filed a federal lawsuit against the district and school administrators for allegedly helping their daughter transition from being a girl to a boy by calling their daughter by a boy’s name, using he/him pronouns, and hiding the transition efforts from them.

Dale Killingbeck can be reached at

Share this article



Dale Killingbeck


Killingbeck is glad to be back in journalism after working for 18 years in corporate communications with a health system in northern Michigan. He spent the previous 16 years working for newspapers in western Michigan in various roles.