Anna Gurko’s son attends middle school in Concord and asked on a Valentine’s Day card what gender there were ‘only two genders’
A New Hampshire mother is breaking her silence after her son was suspended for asking another child what gender there were “only two genders”.
“I was shocked,” said Anna Gurko. “I was very hurt because I know my child. We talk about this all the time.”
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According to a New Hampshire Public Radio report, Gurko’s son, a sixth-grader, was suspended by his middle school principal and told to not come to school for a week. He was suspended after the story of the request to a Valentine’s Day card was posted on social media by a student.
Many parents said they supported Gurko’s son’s right to ask questions about gender identity, but a number of other parents were angry about the way in which the conversation was handled by the school.
A petition was created by Alexandra Rubin, a mother of two. It said: “My son asked questions about whether he was a boy or a girl. The principal did not communicate with the family until he complained to the school principal and then suspended the boy for a week, which is now become part of the public debate about him.”
Gurko’s son had asked in class whether there were only two genders – boy or girl. His answer back from his classmate was “only two genders”.
He said he never told anyone he was gay.
“I can just tell you the truth and I don’t care if it is going to hurt you, but I didn’t want to say I was gay at the time either because I didn’t want people to know that was a thing,” Gurko said.
She added: “I didn’t try to hurt his feelings. We’re just two curious minds, and the only way to answer that question for him was to just get it over with with. I just never thought he would think I’m that mean.”
The petition, which has more than 200 signatures, said that “instead of protecting our children’s right to question what’s real, how God created them, and how they express themselves, [the school] smeared it to be a part of this anti-gay bullying narrative”.
Gurko said that the fight is about protecting transgender people.
“I feel like they are our leaders,” she said. “Our educators, our heads of school. It’s their job to talk to our kids about what their feelings and their difference are. And I don’t feel like it’s their job to be scared of these questions.”
But some parents were upset that Gurko had made the story public. Some Facebook comments were supportive and many others suggested that her son was a misfit because he was transgender and some called for him to be beaten up.
“I was disgusted by the response to this,” Gurko said. “There’s no pride in that.”
“We all have personal issues with things we want to say and not say,” she said. “This is not an issue that we should be fighting over. It shouldn’t be about him personally, because we’re having to have these conversations with him.”
In a statement, the Concord middle school said: “Providing an environment of safety and respect for all is a key priority for our school and we follow a code of conduct that includes referring bullying incidents to the appropriate district office or, in some cases, the administration at the time of the incident.
“If students experience or hear of bullying behavior, they are encouraged to report it to school personnel, who will act appropriately, and if appropriate, refer the matter to the parents or guardians of the student being bullied.”
In the letter, the school referred to the policy and also addressed the boy’s apology. It said that it has not violated any state or federal law or privacy laws, and called the incident a “teachable moment.”