The controversial Scottsdale Unified program, Unitown, is under fire again as documents obtained through public records requests seem to indicate that the district assigns high school boys to sleep in girls’ cabins, if the male students claim they are female. No evidence has been presented that SUSD has any process for verifying the boys’ claims, leaving some to wonder if the district leadership has any standards for protecting girls put in the position of sharing their bedroom with a boy while attending district sponsored overnight activities.
Documents obtained by Arizona Daily Independent reveal that during a Unitown camp informational meeting,“it was mentioned that students would be assigned to their rooms based on the gender they identify with, not their biological gender.” This revelation came not due to district transparency, but only in answer to the direct question from a parent.
In emails to the district, a parent, whose name was redacted by the district but whom we’ll call Beth, expressed frustration at searching online and finding little information about the Unitown club or camp. In response, Beth was connected to SUSD Councilor Gary Griggs, who serves as the director of both the SUSD Unitown club/camp, and the statewide version, Anytown. Griggs has made media headlines for planning sexuality and gender identity programs for the 2022 Unitown camp. One sexual orientation lesson suggested by Griggs to other Scottsdale Unified social workers posed the question: “If you’ve never slept with a person of the same sex, is it possible that all you need is a good gay/lesbian lover?”
Regarding Unitown curriculum, Beth wrote: “This summer, you may be aware that some of the curriculum from that program was leaked out. If the curriculum that leaked is real. Wow, I am really disappointed in our district for not being transparent about what this program includes.”
While documents show that Griggs contested the sexual orientation curriculum claims made public in the media, his own statements to the SUSD administration confirm that the sexual orientation lesson has indeed been used at Unitown camp. On June 13, 2022, in an email titled “Unitown statement,” Griggs wrote: “Students have never filled out that list of questions or any of the gender forms that they also posted in the article. The questions are used as part of a skit by camp staff and posed to camp staff. But we don’t do that skit anymore.”
Parents we spoke with fail to see how the method of delivering the sexual orientation lesson – i.e. handing out a sheet of questions to campers vs. posing the sexuality questions in a skit – would lessen the harmful impact of Griggs’ selected camp curriculum.
Further, Beth reported that Griggs informed her that the district does “not provide more info or sample curriculum to parents because they want it to be a surprise for the kids.”
Unitown camp attendees are hand-selected by SUSD teachers and social workers and invited to participate in the Unitown application and interview process. Approximately 10 students out of 75 are selected per high school by SUSD staff to attend the overnight camp. Upon arrival at camp, students are required to relinquish their cell phones ensuring isolation from parents.
The Scottsdale District’s foray into social justice and gender identity propaganda can likely be traced back to July 2020 when disgraced former board member, Jann Michael Greenburg, appointed the newly-hired Superintendent, Scott Menzel, to take charge of a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) committee. Reports show that soon after, Menzel and the district purchased $3.3M of new curriculum without a single public meeting or review.
Fast-forward to 2022 and it appears the district’s commitment to obfuscating information continues. For example, the Unitown club description previously listed on SUSD’s website read: “To promote leadership, diversity, and understanding between students through discussion, dialogue and activities.” There is no information presented on the curriculum used, or the gender and sexual identity focused nature of the program.
Arizona Daily Independent has also obtained a heavily redacted email sent from Jordan Ray, Chaparral High School Art teacher, about Unitown camp cabin arrangements that contained the subject “[Redacted] Student” and read, “Ben just let me know that DM [Redacted]. [Redacted].” (Note: DM refers to Desert Mountain High School).
Gary Griggs responded: “That is fine. Just make sure your counselors know so when they are doing cabins, they are aware.”
While it is suspected that the title “[redacted] student” is actually “transgender student,” parents are left to wonder and speculate as the district has refused to provide an unredacted copy of the communication. The act of unlawfully refusing to fill public records requests is an on-going issue with the district.
Parents remain confused about how arbitrary gender selection and sexuality pertain to leadership, which Griggs claims is the goal of the camps. Since Griggs refuses to provide parents with the curriculum used, is not transparent about their child’s sleeping arrangements under Griggs’ supervision, and children have no way to communicate with parents after arrival, some parents report hesitancy to allow their children to participate.
Regarding the decision to allow hormonal teenage boys to sleep in girls’ cabins, Beth stated: “If the district wants to support those arrangements in retreats and they don’t think it’s an issue, they should be transparent. It made me feel like they were hiding something from me.” Other parents agree with Beth’s assessment and question the district’s honesty in presenting the camp.
What’s next for Scottsdale Unified? It appears that Griggs is now promoting Minitown, the middle school version of Unitown. This means that Griggs will be bringing his gender confusing and sexual identity programming to an even younger set of SUSD students. It is unclear if Griggs and SUSD will provide middle school parents details of the overt gender identity and sexuality lessons that comes with his program, but parents are concerned that the district will promote similar content with the same level of obfuscation and dishonesty that they have witnessed with the Unitown program.