The Aegis

Parents and community groups speak out at Harford Board of Education meeting following board member’s LGBTQ+ statements

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At the Harford County Board of Education meeting Monday night, parents and members of community groups reacted strongly to board member Diane Alvarez’s LGBTQ+-related comments at a recent town hall meeting sponsored by Moms for Liberty.

A few parents said the comments were offensive and complained about the lack of focus on academics at the town hall. Others supported Alvarez.


Alvarez attended the March 23 event, hosted by Moms for Liberty, a national parental rights organization with political ties to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. According to the conservative group’s YouTube channel, the purpose of the town hall was to “expose how gender ideology has gained such a strong foothold in our schools, and offer solutions for how to combat it.”

In a video of the event posted on YouTube, during a question-and-answer session, Alvarez asked panelist Kathleen Goonan, director of parent advocacy at Genspect, how to “fight” parents who support children wearing their pronouns in schools. Alvarez also commented about flipping the board to have more conservative members.


“I have successfully ran for the board in Harford County,” Alvarez, who represents District F, said in the video. “On the board, we were hoping to flip it. When new members get on, it will become, hopefully, more conservative and we’ll have more of a voice.”

Alvarez continued: “I’ve been getting out to the schools. I was in an elementary school recently and the children were wearing their pronouns. The principal stated that their parents had encouraged it. As a board member where we have parents that are coming in and saying, ‘My child is a they and they haven’t decided yet, so we want you to refer to them as they.’ How do we fight [that]?”

Goonan told Alvarez she is going to have to play a “dual game.” She said that parents who support pronouns and gender identity have a right to make the request, but parents who do not agree have the right to request that their children not be asked their pronouns.

The spokesperson for Harford County Public Schools, Jillian Lader, responded in a written statement on behalf of the school system. “The administration has looked into the information Ms. Alvarez shared about a student wearing a pronoun,” the statement read. “We are unable to confirm that any school has engaged in an activity requiring students to wear pronouns. Our schools do have a long-standing practice during National Reading Week where students may choose a favorite word to wear on a ‘Wear your Word’ day; the words selected are typically vocabulary words recently learned, or a word that is special to that student.”

The Association of Public School Administrators and Supervisors, Association of Harford County Administrative, Technical and Supervisory Professionals, and the Harford County Education Association sent a letter to Alvarez, calling her comments “exclusive” and “inappropriate.”

The unions reminded Alvarez of Harford County Public Schools’ mission — that “each student will attain academic and personal success in a safe and caring environment that honors the diversity of our students and staff” — and that she is an elected board member who represents everyone in her district.

The letter also mentioned alleged racial comments about students’ skin tones during equity tours, which are periodic visits made by board members and administrators to schools to discover how HCPS creates a sense of belonging for all students regardless of demographics.

Jointly, the unions requested a meeting with Alvarez. On April 1, all three unions sent Alvarez a follow-up email. However, Alvarez has not responded, according to Chrystie Crawford-Smick, president of the teachers’ union. The letter was also published in HCEA’s April newsletter.


When reached for comment, Alvarez replied through an HCPS spokesperson, saying: “I believe HCPS should adopt a policy on pronoun usage.” She offered no further comment and did not address the issue during the board meeting.

Board member Melissa Hahn was the only board member who mentioned the issue in her remarks Monday evening. Hahn, who represents District D, and Alvarez were endorsed by Moms for Liberty in the 2022 election.

“With the recent test scores that have been released, it has never been more crystal clear that we are focusing on the wrong things, and that we need to focus on education and helpings our struggling students catch up,” Hahn said. “We need to ensure every HCPS student is provided the same opportunities to be successful, no matter what part of the county they are from.”

Hahn added: “I was elected to the Board of Education, just like the other five individuals sitting here to represent their districts. We’re all equals on the board, and it is our job to oversee the general operations of HCPS-approved curriculum and develop policies.”

Residents on both sides of the issue shared their concerns during public comments.

“If a parent pushes back against this insanity, they’re deemed unsafe and their home is abusive,” said Susan Scott, president of the Harford County chapter of Moms for Liberty. “If a school board member questions the focus on pronouns in elementary school, they are bullied and intimidated by the teachers’ unions.”


However, other residents disagreed.

“Any board member who refuses to operate under the law, should be removed,” said parent Cheryl Adams. “There’s been a lot of discussion about pronouns. I was uncomfortable at first because I believed that you can’t use ‘they, them’ because they are plural. My student taught me that I use ‘they, them’ pronouns individually all the time, and I had not realized it.”

“It is our job to protect our students, teachers and community,” said parent Rachel Delaughter. “Attacking a group of students, and the teachers who support them, is so very wrong. All it does is make school more of a war zone.”