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Michigan district defends teaching elementary kids grammar lesson on 'tree,' 'ze' pronouns

Schavey Road Elementary School, in DeWitt, Michigan, is teaching students about using interchangeable gender pronouns in a new lesson.

A Michigan elementary school district is doubling down on a lesson for students about using novel gender pronouns, including the phrase "tree," with the superintendent saying it promoted "inclusivity."

Schavey Road Elementary School, in DeWitt, Mich., sent out a letter on April 11 informing parents of the school’s plans to "help students share and explore pronouns" in a lesson using the book "They She He Me: Free to Be!" by Maya Gonzalez, which includes cartoon pictures of men and women using interchangeable pronouns. The letter also states parents are able to opt their children out of the curriculum. 

"We would like to inform you of a lesson that will be taught in your child's classroom," the April 11 letter said. "The lesson goals are to help students share and explore pronouns through discussion and literature to embrace differences and promote acceptance."

The book teaches kids to embrace nonbinary gender terminology, including "zie" and "tree." 


"On the inside, you may not feel like a he or she at all," the book states. "Maybe they feels most free or you may feel like both she and he." 

Children are taught they can "claim" their pronouns outside "he and she" by creating the way they want to be addressed. 

"You can use your own name as a pronoun," the book says. "You can change pronouns from he to she or she to he. You can use new ones like ze or create your own like tree! Some people use they, which is a perfect way. There are many more pronouns waiting to be discovered and used." 

The book also instructs kids to use the pronoun they observe a playmate saying and if they do not hear a pronoun, the child can always use "they." Children are also instructed to "play with pronouns" by imagining how characters feel on the inside and changing their pronouns. 


Tom Barrett, the Republican House candidate for the district where the school is located, called it "outrageous gender politics."

"There are ample ways and countless books that encourage kids to respect one another that most importantly don’t involve teaching outrageous gender politics and preferred pronouns to 6-year-olds, especially when most adults can’t keep up with their evolving definitions," he told Fox News Digital. "This is another attempt at robbing our kids of their childhoods." 

The letter was signed by Schavey Road Elementary Principal Liz Crouch and DeWitt Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Spickard. 

The superintendent, Dr. Shanna Spickard, released a statement to Fox News Digital, which said, "The principal, and I informed families directly involved about an upcoming lesson for their students. This optional mini-lesson is not part of the core curriculum but is a supportive measure to promote inclusivity, a core value of our district."

"In line with our approach to personal health curriculum, families received a letter outlining the lesson and providing an option to opt their child out if they wish. The mini-lesson is not designed to challenge or alter family beliefs. Instead, it aims to ensure a safe and respectful learning environment where students feel valued," the statement continued. "We encourage any DPS parents with concerns to contact the building or district administration for accurate information."

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