A leaked audio recording revealed California teachers mocking parents over concerns about homosexual and transgender indoctrination at school, said a source who attended a recent teachers union conference in Palm Springs.
The recording, obtained by The Epoch Times, captured two seventh-grade teachers, Kelly Baraki and Lori Caldeira from Buena Vista Middle School in Salinas, Calif., telling other teachers how to recruit students into LGBTQ clubs, also known as "Gay-Straight Alliance" (GSA) clubs, at school.
"It was horrifying to listen to not just one teacher but really all of the teachers in all of these seminars, excoriating parents," said the source, who goes by the pseudonym Rebecca Murphy.
Murphy attended the California Teachers Association (CTA) conference in late October. She told The Epoch Times the teachers "mocked" parents for their concerns, and suggested they know better than parents about what's best for their children.
"They laughed at the parents," Murphy said.
The sold-out CTA conference, billed as the "2021 LGBTQ+ Issues Conference, Beyond the Binary: Identity & Imagining Possibilities," was held Oct. 29 to 31.
The CTA has hosted similar "Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity" (SOGI) professional development training for at least the last two years, according to an event notice posted on the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) website, which asks teachers: "Do you have the courage to create a safe environment that fosters bravery to explore sexual orientation, gender identity and expressions?"
However, according to Murphy, the purpose of conference in Palm Springs appeared to be about teachers showing other teachers how to undermine the authority of parents and school administrators and conceal activities related to gender inclusion and sexual orientation from them.
The three classes Murphy attended were designed to recruit middle school students to GSA clubs, she said.
"The overarching theme of the classes that I attended were California Teachers instructing other teachers on how to sneak in the LGBTQ+ curriculum in a manner that does not alert parents," Murphy said.
Caldeira and Baraki led a workshop called "How we run a ‘GSA' in Conservative Communities," and they described the obstacles they faced as activist teachers in concealing the activities of these clubs from parents.
In the audio clip, Caldeira advised teachers who lead LGBTQ clubs to maintain an air of plausible deniability so they can play dumb if they are questioned by parents.
"Because we are not official, we have no club rosters. We keep no records," said Caldeira, who is also an LGBTQ club leader. "In fact, sometimes we don't really want to keep records because if parents get upset that their kids are coming? We're like, ‘Yeah, I don't know. Maybe they came?' You know, we would never want a kid to get in trouble for attending if their parents are upset."
Baraki backed up Caldeira's advice, suggesting activist teachers to disguise the nature of GSA clubs by calling them something less obvious. Baraki provided an example of this deception, pointing out she avoided naming her LGBTQ club a GSA. Instead, she called it the "Equity Club" and later changed the name to the "You Be You" club.
The teachers bragged about spying on students' online searches and activity as well as eavesdropping on their conversations to identify and recruit sixth-grade students into these LGBTQ clubs whose membership rolls are kept hidden from parents. They suggested that parents who refuse to call their child by pronouns of the child's choosing should be arrested and charged with child abuse, Murphy said.
Buena Vista Middle School falls under the jurisdiction of the Spreckels Union School District (SUSD). Another nearby district, Salinas Union High School District (SUHSD) has been a center of controversy over its mandatory ninth grade ethnic studies program, which teaches elements of critical race theory.
SUSD Board President Steve McDougall, Superintendent Eric Tarallo, and school board members did not respond to Epoch Times inquiries about the leaked audio. Neither did Caldeira and Baraki.
Caldeira also discussed a yearly anti-bullying presentation she provides to students along with Baraki, and she said LGBTQ issues were not the only topics they discussed.
"We also covered religious differences, race, cultural backgrounds, family status poverty-everything that is listed in the Parents' Rights handbook."
However, when the kids went home and talked to their parents about the presentation, the parents complained about the LGBTQ content. Baraki suggested a different strategy to avoid resistance from parents.
"Next year, we're going to do just a little mind-trick on our sixth graders. They were last to go through this presentation and the gender stuff was the last thing we talked about. So next year, they'll be going first with this presentation and the gender stuff will be the first thing they hear about. Hopefully to mitigate, you know, these kind of responses, right?" Baraki said.
Baraki ridiculed a parent who complained she hadn't planned on having a conversation about sexual orientation and gender identity issues with her middle-schooler but was pushed into it by the school.
"I know, so sad, right? Sorry for you, you had to do something hard!" Baraki told her audience. "Honestly, your 12-year-old probably knew all that, right?"
When a principal suggested to another parent to enroll their child in a private school over the controversy, Caldeira said, "We count that as a win."
Controlling Morning Announcements
Caldeira also spoke about how she controls morning announcements at the school.
"That's another type of strategy I can give you," she said. "I'm the one who controls the messaging. Everybody says, ‘Oh, Ms. Caldeira, you're so sweet, you volunteered to do that.' Of course, I'm so sweet that I volunteered to do that, because then I control the information that goes out. And, for the first time this year, students have been allowed to put openly LGBT content into our morning announcement slides."
She went on to boast about the students she recruited to help with the announcements.
"Three of the kids on the team, two of them are non-binary, and the other one is just very fluid in every way. She's fabulous. So, it's actually a nice group," she said.
Caldeira pointed out more than once that she can't be fired, and she thanked CTA for her tenure and for providing resources and tools.
"You can't fire me for running a GSA," she said. "You can be mad, but you can't fire me for it."
"CTA has made it very clear that they are devoted to human rights and equity," she added.
Caldeira tells teachers, that she and Baraki have acted with "great integrity."
"We never crossed a line," she says. "We've wanted to, but we never have."
After information about the leaked audio was made public this week, Supt. Tarallo, SUSD President McDougall and Kate Pagaran, the principal at Buena Vista Middle School, issued a letter Nov. 19 addressed to the "SUSD Community" that the "UBU You Be You" club has been suspended.
"Any future student clubs will be required to submit an outline of all activities and materials before being allowed to meet," the letter states. "Student sign-in sheets will be maintained and parent/guardian permission slips will be sent home prior to a club holding a meeting."
The letter states that "all messaging shared in the morning announcements" will be controlled and distributed by the principal, a practice that "will be in place permanently."
"Teachers are prohibited from monitoring students' online activity for any non-academic purpose."
SUSD will follow state-approved standards and curriculum on all presentations involving "sensitive themes such as sexuality" and "materials of any sensitive themes will be shared with parents/guardians before being shown to students," the letter states.