Exclusive: Chicago Public Schools refuses to release records detailing gender and sex education training 

(Daily Caller News Foundation) – The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district refused a Daily Caller News Foundation Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request regarding training materials used for…

(Daily Caller News Foundation) – The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district refused a Daily Caller News Foundation Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request regarding training materials used for its gender and sexuality lessons provided by the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

CPS paid over $90,000 from January 2021 to as recently as June 6 for a number of workshops and trainings that the hospital provides through its Sexuality Education Program, according to invoices obtained by the DCNF. In a follow-up FOIA request, the DCNF asked that CPS provide any “presentations, slideshows, curriculum materials, videos [and] handouts” used for the training, but the district refused on Aug. 25 in a email, saying the information was “exempt from disclosure” since it involved “course” and “research materials” used by staff.

“Chicago Public School’s response is insufficient under the law,” Michael Bekesha, senior attorney for Judicial Watch, told the DCNF. “They need to provide more information to explain to the public exactly why they’re withholding these records. It doesn’t seem that all of them would be covered under the law.”

In March 2021, Salmon P. Chase Public School Counselor Elizabeth Rosenfield-Doyle received a $100 invoice for two “Gender Upstander Workshops” and then later that month CPS School Counselor Erin Conway was sent a $2,250 invoice for 15 one-hour “Sexuality Education workshops,” according to the documents. In November 2022, Conway was invoiced $4,200 for 28 Sexual Health Education (SHE) workshops for third through eighth graders.

The hospital says on its website that the “student sessions” can be tailored for all students, noting its specialty in K-8 as a “pediatric institution.” The “LGBTQ Centered/GSA Workshops” are for middle and high school students and focus on topics such as “sexual communication in a gender-affirming way, healthy LGBTQ relationships, anal sex, and HIV.”

Information about these school programs should be “public … and should not be discovered only by FOIA request,” Tiffany Justice, co-founder of Moms for Liberty, a grassroots organization that defends parental rights, told the DCNF.

“If it must be hidden from parents then it is wrong,” Justice said. “Parents have a fundamental right to be engaged in the education of their children and taxpayers deserve to know where their hard-earned money is going. Instead of funding these programs, schools should invest in the actual education of the students and perhaps then the reading and arithmetic proficiency scores would not be plummeting across the country.”

The two largest invoice charges were in 2021 and 2022, according to the records. CPS paid $15,000 in July 2021 for a “DASH Grant Deliverables” gender and sexuality workshop but the invoice did not expand on what all that entailed.

The district shelled out another $23,000 in March 2022 for “Gender and Sexuality Resource Development,” paying $8,000 for a video production team, $5,000 for the “Sexpectations Team fee” and $600 in gift cards for staff and participants. The most recent purchase was on June 6 for 13 updated reviews of “SHE Lessons” for fifth and third graders which cost $1,987.50 in total.

The program also provides workshops and resources for parents and educators, according to the website. The hospital offers a general course regarding “Comprehensive Sex Education” that is “tailored to the age of students,” a “Make It Interactive: Hands-On Practice of Activities to Support Sexuality Education” as well as several others.

A DCNF investigation in June revealed that the hospital was charging school districts in the state of Illinois up to $1,500 for presentations for teachers on “inclusive sexual health ed practices.” The hospital also paid CPS $500 to cover the cost of a drag queen performance at the school district’s May “Galaxy Summit,” according to another DCNF records request.

CPS, Conway, Rosenfield-Doyle and Lurie Children’s Hospital did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.