A mother has pulled her son from preschool after she claims the school allowed the boy to wear a dress.
On Friday, Kayla Bedford, 24, a stay-at-home mother in Wichita, Kan., withdrew her 2-year-old son Zach from the private Christian school Bethany Early Childhood Center after her girlfriend reportedly saw the boy “parading around in a dress” after she dropped him off that morning.
Kayla says after saying goodbye to the boy, her girlfriend turned to look and saw that the 2-year-old was putting on a dress. “She came back into the classroom and took off the dress saying, ‘We don’t do this’ in front of the teacher,” Kayla tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I am a lesbian, but I don’t push my son in any direction. Whatever he decides to do or wear in the future is his decision.”
Later that day, Kayla came to school to speak to the teacher and says when she walked into the classroom, her son was putting on the dress again while a teacher stood over him. “I pulled his teacher aside and explained that I don’t condone my son wearing a dress at school,” says Kayla. “She just laughed and said, ‘He’s only two!’” Kayla then called her father, Malcolm, to meet her at the school.
With his cellphone video-recording, Malcolm confronted Zach’s teacher, while small children played nearby. “My daughter called and said she had an issue with my grandson being in a dress,” he said. “I’m trying to see what the issue is.” The teacher said Malcolm should speak to the school director, and he responded, “We don’t do the transgender [thing].”
“He’s two,” the teacher answers in the video.
After seeing the video, people wrote transphobic comments on social media and said the teacher was out of line. A few wanted to know why the boy was wearing a dress. “It’s hard to actually know what went on but I’d put a little boy in a dress if that’s what he wanted,” wrote an Instagrammer. “My son has worn princess dresses with his sister … it’s called dress-up. Relax.” Someone on Twitter wrote, “He should not address the teacher in front of students or children.”
Dress-up is a popular pastime for kids, even young boys, pediatrician Jack Maypole, MD, told Parenting, and a helpful tool in exploring one’s gender identity. The publication also mentions research that shows this type of play helps children develop empathy and creativity. So no matter a child’s gender or sex, there’s little harm in playing a princess or a prince.
However, Kayla says her requests were disregarded, and there was no explanation for why her son wore a dress on two occasions. And because her son is the only African-American boy in the class, she fears possible discrimination. The mom also complains that the school lacks dress-up clothes for boys.
A school representative sent a statement to Yahoo Lifestyle: “At Bethany Early Childhood Center we put our children first and foremost. We encourage our children to play in a Christ-centered atmosphere that we hope will allow them to gain confidence and learn to interact with others in a positive way. Our primary responsibility is to our children and part of that is protecting their privacy, because of this we are unable to comment on specific incidents involving a child in our care.”
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