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Boston Public Schools denied a religious exemption to a father requesting that his 11-year-old son be exempt from a gender ideology assignment, emails obtained by The Daily Wire show.
Brian Ruka’s son Brody is a fifth-grader in the Boston Public School system, where he was given an assignment on the short story “The Gender Reveal,” the father told The Daily Wire. The short story is included in the book “Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood,” and tells the tale of a 13 year old who comes out as nonbinary.
Ruka, the host of the political podcast Right & Wrong, told the school system in a March 15 email that he could not find the full story when he attempted to preview it for his son, and could only see the section for which students were assigned questions.
“I’m troubled that an assignment like this was so casually dropped into the curriculum without any regard for the religious and moral beliefs of the families in this class,” he said in an email provided to The Daily Wire.
Ruka, who said he has been a security officer with the City of Boston for the past eight years but is currently out with an injury, also called the assignment an “insulting violation” of his family’s religious rights, objecting to the school teaching what he called radical political ideology.
“My child is at school to be taught truth and reality,” he wrote. “You are setting these children up to ignore basic fundamental genetics.”
Boston Public Schools did not address requests for comment from The Daily Wire.
Grace Jung, the director of training and accommodations in the school system’s Office of Equity, told Ruka in a March 22 email that the Office of Equity had reviewed his concerns and “determined that this curriculum is not considered to be sexual health education, and that it is age-appropriate and consistent with district policies and goals.”
Jung then denied Ruka’s request to opt his son out of the short story.
“Given that there may be discussions of all types of identities (e.g. race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation) consistent with the district’s policies and the core values of the Kenny Elementary School, the Office of Equity cannot reasonably grant an accommodation that would exempt your child from participating in discussions or assignments that include references to gender identity and/or sexual orientation,” she added.
Jung did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In a March 25 email, Assistant Superintendent of Equity Becky Shuster told Ruka that the story discussed in his child’s class is “not characterized as sexual health education.”
“As a fellow BPS parent, I appreciate your desire to frame what your child is learning in school consistent with your family’s beliefs and values, and I am glad we had the opportunity to discuss some strategies for you to do so going forward,” said Schuster, though she noted that she had explained to Ruka what types of religious accommodations “are possible for BPS students and families.”
Ruka told The Daily Wire that he wishes to shine more light on the incident because he doesn’t think parents realize the radical nature of the content being taught in the Boston Public School System.
“Shame on her, and shame on this committee for determining what is age-appropriate for my child,” Ruka said of Jung in a March 23 school board meeting.
“My child is a statistic to you,” he told the board. “Your job is to teach our children how to read and write. How to add and subtract. It’s not to indoctrinate children into a radical, progressive world view.”
“I was told that this topic is considered the same as race and religion,” he continued. “How would the committee react if this story was about a 13-year-old that suddenly found Jesus Christ? How about a child that was excited to attend the March for Life? I suspect you would hear more of a backlash. Do conservative religious families have to just shut up and take it because we are in the minority? Where is the equity for us? Where is our inclusion?”
Ruka also pushed the school system to address a list of questions, including when gender identity was added to the Boston Public Schools curriculum, in what grade such lessons begin, whether teachers are trained on how to present and discuss such matters before introducing it via a lesson, what makes sexual identity and sexual orientation different than sex education, and whether gender identity is taught as a belief or as a definitive statement.
“My wife and I have raised our children to be kind, and loving,” Ruka wrote in his March 15 email to the school system. “We would never teach them to be purposely rude or mean to anyone.”
“I pray that the children that do fall into the delusion that they can somehow decide to change their sex get the mental help they so desperately need,” he added. “Trying to mold young minds into believing otherwise goes against the very idea of educating them.”
The parent told The Daily Wire that his family feels “stuck education-wise, because of the cost of Catholic school.”
“I’d love to figure out a way to homeschool, but we’re worried about being able to pull it off with work schedules,” he explained, noting that due to his job, he must live in the city of Boston, where rent is expensive.