NJ Nonprofit Caught Sneaking Gender Lessons into Schools So Parents Can’t Opt Out
A Princeton non-profit, HiTOPS, has been caught sneaking gender, sex, and LGBT lessons into Mercer County schools, according to a Project Veritas video.
Based on the video, HiTOPS has been sneaking the lessons into courses on race in schools in Mercer County. Schools include JP Elementary in Princeton, Princeton Middle School, Christina Seix Academy in Ewing, and schools in Trenton including Trenton Ninth Grade Academy, according to HiTOPS Health Educator Hannah Wiers.
They encourage teachers to speak to 4-year-olds about their gender
The nonprofit "fosters strong and healthy young people of all identities" and teaches sexual health-related programs at public schools.
But when parents aren't looking, they encourage teachers to speak with children as young as 4 years old about their gender identity and pronouns, Wiers said.
Video by conservative activists exposes nonprofit's sneaky plan
The video features undercover interviews with Wiers and HiTOPS Executive Director Lisa Shelby. It was posted to YouTube on Wednesday by the conservative investigative group Project Veritas, which was founded by James O’Keefe in 2013. O'Keefe, a New Jersey native, is no longer with the organization.
Townsquare Media left a message with HiTOPS seeking comment.
Princeton school district is investigating
Princeton Public Schools Superintendent Carol Kelley said the district has reached out to HiTOPS for information and that the district will "evaluate" its relationship with the non-profit.
"While we align with the HiTOPS mission to support LGBTQIA+ youth, we strongly disagree with how representatives of the organization allegedly encouraged bypassing parental consent," Kelley said.
How HiTOPS sneaks gender lessons into classrooms
Under New Jersey state law, parents must have the option to remove their child from sex education lessons. New guidelines that took effect at the start of last school year require schools to teach those lessons at younger ages. Parents can opt-out with a letter.
To prevent parents from opting out of sex education lessons that include lessons on gender-affirming language and practices, HiTOPS adds the material into a three-day course called Pathways to Racial Literacy, according to Wiers. The course is meant to focus on race and ethnicity.
Unlike health classes, parents cannot remove their children from the course.
"I think our real goal would be to make sure that opt-out doesn't exist," Wiers said.
HiTOPS Executive Director Lisa Shelby confirmed in another conversation in the video that the organization injects the lessons into courses focused on race to bypass a parent's ability to opt out.
"There's a mandate for racial justice and inclusivity that, sometimes, that's how we get through. Yes," Shelby said.
Talking to young children about their gender identity
HiTOPS also encourages schools to speak with young children, who have not yet developed the ability to read or write, about exploring their gender identities, Wiers said.
"With children who are not at reading and writing age, it's a little difficult," Wiers said.
She said that it was important to ask a child which name and pronouns they would like to use without parents around. The information could then be added to a digital database for the school which could be updated every few months without informing the child's parents.
"I don't know if a 4-year-old is gonna know the word pronoun," Wiers said. "They know, you know, 'I like to be called she/her,' like, 'I'm a boy,' things like that."
The full video is available below.