Denver School District’s ‘Ethnic Studies’ Course Teaches 9th Graders Racial Equity, Gender Ideology

The course includes lessons on "building a collective society."
Close-up of a chair on a student's desk inside a classroom in a secondary school.
(Getty Images)

Denver Public Schools has an “ethnic studies” course that teaches ninth graders racial equity and gender ideology, according to a parental rights group.

Parents Defending Education (PDE) said they obtained the curriculum for the Denver school district’s ninth grade “Introduction to Ethnic Studies” course, which allegedly includes lessons on “Building a Collective Society” and “Intersectionality in Action.”

Other topics reportedly include “Mapping Identity Through Poetry,” “Beyond the Binary,” “The Intersectionality Lens,” and “Systemic Change.”

Scott Pribble, the district’s Director of External Communications, said in an email that the course is “not a required course for any of our students” and that they have “not received any concerns from parents.”

In the collective society lesson, students are asked to “analyze and critique dominant individualist ideologies in the United States,” according to PDE.

One lesson reportedly asks students to “reflect on the 20th century American concepts of the American Dream and the Self-Made Man” and write a brief summary of a pretend movie that “captures the essence of the American Dream through an individualist perspective.”

“Then, students learn about collectivist values from Indigenous Plant Teachings” and rewrite their movie summaries to “integrate collective values.”

The lesson provides an example of a movie summary: “In the roaring 20s New York City, a determined young Irish immigrant dockworker, fueled by a passionate love for a wealthy socialite, embarks on a perilous journey to transcend his humble origins and earn her love.”

The lesson suggests changing that movie summary to: “In 1920s New York City, a compassionate young Irish immigrant accepts a position as a dockworker, and fueled by his commitment to his community, joins forces with his fellow workers to challenge oppressive class divisions and create a more just and equitable society,” according to PDE.

Several lessons focus on American Indian culture, including one that asks students to use a Navajo Four Cardinal Directions map to “design a classroom worldview.”

Students are also reportedly asked to explore how different representations of an Aztec deity “helps build deeper understanding of the truth and meaning,” according to the lesson plan.

The curriculum also has students learn the term “anti-racism” and watch an Ibram X. Kendi interview, PDE reported. That lesson also teaches students the quote, “In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist” from Angela Davis.

In the unit on gender ideology, students “analyze statistics on anti-trans politics” and learn about “gender fluid cultures,” according to the group.

The Denver Public Schools serves more than 88,000 students at more than 200 schools.

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