Guest Commentary: Bladen BOE Member Questions UNC School Program

Steve Kwiatkowski
Steve Kwiatkowski

Editor’s note: Bladen County Board of Education member Steve Kwiatkowski published this opinion piece on his personal social media this week. It is shared here with his permission.

On this page, I speak for myself. I do not speak for anyone else on the Board. That being said, I want to convey a matter directly to you so you will know what was said and done, and dispel any inaccuracies or rumors.

During February’s school board meeting, two representatives from the UNC Pediatrics Dept., Dr. Steiner and Dr. Feldman, came and made their pitch to the Board, offering mental health services to Bladen County schools for free (Nothing is “free”. The taxpayers foot the bill.). After being notified that this would be on the agenda a week prior to the meeting, I had a chance to look up UNC’s Pediatrics website because I was aware that N.C. universities were exposing children to controversial practices.

This is confirmed by UNC Pediatrics own website which can be accessed here:…/2019/03/LGBTQI-Vander-Schaaf.pdf

On the very same page appear the words “UNC Children’s Health Care” and “LGBTQI”. The word “Children’s” is in a multi-colored cartoonish font that’s meant to appeal to small children. Why does a PEDIATRICS department have LGBTQI care?

Scrolling down the PDF, another slide shows the aims of this department. One is displaying “visual cues of inclusivity in 100 percent of patient rooms and on 30 percent of individuals”. This hospital is not taking a neutral stance on the issue; they are actively promoting it and affirming it as normal, and their aim is to make sure a child will not be able to enter a patient room without being exposed to it.

Another aim is to “Ask about sexual orientation and gender identity (SO/GI) at 90 percent of acute visits.”

Another page shows the intake forms where they ask minors such questions as their gender pronouns, gender identity, sexual orientation and who they’re attracted to. This page states, “We ask all teenagers these questions because it is our job to keep you healthy.”

All during my school years, I’ve never been asked these questions. My mental health hasn’t suffered. Such invasive questions about personal matters have no place in school.

At the meeting, Dr. Steiner and Dr. Feldman gave their presentation that included a slide show (but it did not include any of the ones shown in the above PDF). It was a fairly comprehensive presentation with a good amount of information. When they finished, they asked the Board members if we had any questions.

I asked them if that was the end of their presentation. They said “yes”. I asked them what other services they provide. They didn’t mention any other services. They were given every opportunity to mention the matter in question, and they never did.

I asked them directly about their LGBTQI care, and Dr. Steiner told the Board that it was not the intent to bring this to the Bladen County schools. But the very next question, when I asked if school was the best place to bring up these issues, Dr. Feldman said, “Yes, because school is where they are, so that’s where we can reach them.”

Am I the only one who sees the contradiction?

Another Board member asked the reps from UNC to provide copies of all forms that they would use when interviewing students, and they agreed, but to date I haven’t seen them.

The following Board meeting in March, a motion to vote on this matter was made and properly seconded. The Board Chair asked if there was any discussion. There was none. The Board voted 5 to 4, along party lines, not to enter into any agreement with UNC Pediatrics.

It wasn’t until well after the vote that two Board members lectured the rest of the Board about the vote, with one member in particular berating other Board members for their decision, and demanding that I explain myself to him in particular before getting up and walking out of the meeting in anger while it was still in progress.

I don’t answer to him, nor do I have to give an account of myself on demand. I have as much right to vote no as he does to vote yes, and I don’t have to justify my vote to him. I answer to the parents and others who voted for me.

I campaigned to keep wokeism, critical race theory, and other controversial matters out of the schools. Across the U.S. and in North Carolina, schools are allowing boys in girls bathrooms and locker rooms, allowing drag queens read stories to children, and forcing females to compete with biological males in sports and are suffering injuries as a result. I will always work to protect our students, not endanger them.

Our schools are underperforming. The focus needs to be on academics so that students will be prepared to face the real world as adults and enter the workforce in a globally competitive market. They need to be proficient in math, English, science, civics, and athletics. We don’t need to be distracted by controversies that don’t serve that purpose. I’ll never understand people who aren’t nearly as alarmed by the fact that Johnny can’t read as they are alarmed by Johnny having to go outside the school to get his gender affirming counseling.

Objections have been raised about turning down “free” mental health care. First of all, free or not, I wouldn’t trust my child’s mental health counseling to people who think that boys and girls are interchangeable, and who can’t even define what a woman is.

Second, Bladen County has a Mental Health department. No one is stopping parents from taking their children there on their own. They don’t need the approval of the school system or the school board. If cost is an issue, why can’t parents go to Social Services and apply for Medicaid or CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program)? Why does anyone think that there is no access to mental health care unless the school board makes it available in our schools? More children need dental care then mental health care, but no one is demanding that the schools provide free dental services and facilities on campus, and that’s because it isn’t a function of the schools. Our schools are not and cannot be a one-stop-for-every-need-imaginable kind of place.

I won’t be bullied, shamed, ridiculed, or otherwise pressured to change my mind with appeals to emotion. I’m standing on what I campaigned on. Come November, there will be more seats on the school board up for grabs. Get out and vote, because 5 to 4 is too close. We need to increase our Republican majority.