A group of parents and concerned citizens gathered in the Homewood Public Library Thursday night to learn about a controversial school program known as Social Emotional Learning (SEL).

The event was streamed live online by LOCAL Alabama, the grassroots organization which sponsored the event.

Allison Sinclair, President and Founder of LOCAL Alabama, introduced the speakers for the evening with a few comments of her own.

“I would argue that Social Emotional Learning might even be more dangerous than Critical Race Theory (CRT)," Sinclair said. “I feel like most people inherently know Critical Race Theory and some of these other theories and movements that are out there are just wrong.

“We’re all made in God’s image. Equal. Different, but equal.” Sinclair added. “This is much more subtle. It’s much more sinister.”

The first presentation came from Mike Parsons of Save Alabama’s Values and Education (SAVE). Parsons led an effort in February to get the state GOP to adopt a resolution opposing SEL. He also worked with the legal division of the Legislative Services Agency to draft a bill that would remove the national SEL program from Alabama schools. 

House Bill 457 (HB457), sponsored by State Rep. Tommy Hanes, received its first reading in the legislature on March 8.

“This is the most insidious program I could comprehend having in public education,” Parsons told 1819 News. “Basically, it gets into who is raising your child.”

In his presentation, Parsons outlined state guidelines showing some of the 123 “competency indicators” adopted by the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) from the American School Counselors Association (ASCA).

“Some of them look harmless," Parsons said. "Some of them cause you some concern."

One example cited said students in grades K-2 are expected to “recognize and respect differences in various family configurations.” Parsons said this competency trains children in kindergarten to “respect two men, two women, and a man and a woman as a family configuration.”

Students are expected to master all 123 competencies by the end of grade 12. Parsons said the process is nothing less than indoctrination. He said SEL has been in the state curriculum for several years but strengthening its implementation was specified in some of the COVID-19 relief funding received by the state.

“You hear a lot of ‘the wolves at the door’ stuff,” Parsons said. “The wolf’s not at the door. Today, if your child’s in public school the wolf’s in their bedroom at their throat.”

Parsons said it is important for parents to step up. He encouraged people to contact their representative and ask for HB457 to go to committee for a roll call vote and then ask for roll call votes in the state House of Representatives and state Senate.

Local attorney, and Homewood parent, Tyler McIntyre gave the second presentation of the evening. He shared his personal experience having children in local public schools.

McIntyre gave examples of incidents from his son’s 10th grade experience. He showed the reading list given to his son’s class. One book was the story of a young girl dealing with a violent rape that appeared to show she couldn’t trust her parents.

Another book on the list dealt largely with sexuality in the context of religion. It was a story about a young Catholic girl and her homosexual brother.

McIntyre said he spoke to the school principal about the reading list and was told he could pick any other book instead.

“I was told that there was a choice to bring in more authors of color,” McIntyre said. He said teachers are not required to use the actual textbook for their courses. “We’re spending thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars on textbooks and they’re just sitting underneath the desks.”

McIntyre said white children in his son’s class were taught they are oppressors. “This is just leftist propaganda. They just try to create something for kids to fight for as opposed to just enjoying each other.”

McIntyre said parents need to become more engaged and more aware of what kids are exposed to in school. He also said he hopes lawmakers pass laws that “de-politicize and de-sexualize” the classroom.

Tyler Thrasher, of LOCAL Alabama, gave the third presentation of the evening. He showed the crowd a list of organizations promoting SEL including CASEL, Second Step and Committee for Children.

He showed comments from some of the organization leaders, including the CEO of CASEL, Karen Niemi, who said SEL is necessary to meet our growing “political, economic, and health challenges.”

Thrasher showed the crowd a series of slides from Committee for Children talking about privilege, anti-racism and allyship—a term that implies emotional alignment with an oppressed person or group.

“That’s the mindset. You have to assume everybody in this room, everybody in our school is racist” Thrasher said, “and the only way we’re going to fix this is to cram SEL in everybody’s face.”

Thrasher mentioned the website named Love is Respect which is referenced by some of the organizations pushing for SEL. The site gives sex advice to children including tips on the first time having sex, including advice that the first time is not always pleasant but it gets better with practice and experience.

The website also warns children that their browser access can be monitored and assists them in erasing browser history to hide their visit from parents and others who may be tracking them.

Sinclair returned to the podium to close the event saying parents are “all learning about this together.” She said the video of the event will be available on the LOCAL Alabama website.

Friday, March 11 was the third annual International Social Emotional Learning Day.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email news@1819News.com.