Wednesday, May 29th

genderEarlier this school year Dr. Edgar McIntosh, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, held an informational meeting and then subsequently sent an informational letter to the parents of current 5th grade students to introduce and outline the changes being made to the 5th grade health curriculum. Some of the changes include lessons on gender inclusive puberty, and while many in our District have expressed their support for these changes and see them as a much needed update, others have expressed their reservations about the age appropriateness of the new lessons.

An anonymous letter to outlined many of the apprehensions including a concern that fifth grade is too young for this topic to be introduced and that these lessons are not being taught in other school districts at the elementary level. The email also explained that the parents would like to be allowed to view the actual materials and lessons that the children themselves will see.

Over the last several weeks, Dr. McIntosh has made a concerted effort to listen to many of these concerns and in response, at the Board of Education Meeting on Monday April 8th, he announced that on April 15th, he will host two presentations about the revised health curriculum. As Mcintosh described, the presentations will explore the “Resources, Materials, guidelines and methods that we are using in our revised 5th grade health lessons…and I will share lesson plans and topics and answer parent questions.”

The presentations are open to all interested parents of current 5th grade students and an invitation to register for either the coffee at 10:30am or the Zoom Webinar at 6pm, has been sent directly to these parents. For parents who have children in other grades in elementary school, an additional informational meeting will be held in June with an exact date and location to be determined.

What's More, McIntosh clarified that the Hastings School District discusses gender at the elementary level as part of their DEI work- as do many independent schools. And going a step further, in a move to be even more transparent and to build a stronger foundation of trust and respect, Dr. McIntosh recently shared the following letter:

Dear Scarsdale Families,

Each year during 5th grade, the health curriculum includes lessons on puberty. As you may be aware, we recently updated the curriculum for 5th grade health as part of our continual process of reviewing curriculum. One of the updates to the curriculum starting this year is that we will be discussing gender identity and gender expression, in addition to topics related to physical changes during puberty. These lessons will occur in mixed-gender groups and will take place over the course of two lessons.

We have received feedback from the community with questions about what will be included in this new curriculum, the rationale for the shift to a more gender-inclusive approach, and the decision to have the discussions in mixed-gender groups. I hope the following information will help answer some of these questions. In addition, we will be hosting an evening meeting for any Scarsdale Elementary families in June. (Exact date and location TBA). Fifth grade parents have already been invited to an information session to learn about the upcoming curriculum. Similar to other curricular areas, we will likely make adjustments in the coming years based on educator feedback and student responses. Those revisions would be reflected in next year’s presentation.

Teaching about gender identity and gender expression during puberty instruction in 5th grade is important for various reasons that align with our educational, psychological, and social-emotional goals.

Educational Goals

Comprehensive Understanding of Puberty: Puberty education is not only about the biological changes that occur but also about understanding oneself and respecting others. Including gender identity and expression helps students grasp the full spectrum of human development.

-Students will understand the meaning of biological sex (vocabulary: male, female, intersex)
-Students will understand the meaning of gender expression and that people’s gender expression can exist on a spectrum (vocabulary: masculine, feminine, androgynous)
-Students will understand the meaning of gender identity and that it can exist on a spectrum (vocabulary: male, female, nonbinary)
-Students will understand that biological sex, gender expression, and gender identity can be aligned or separate (vocabulary: cisgender, transgender)

Inclusivity and Representation: It ensures that all students see themselves represented in the curriculum, which is crucial for their self-esteem and mental health. This inclusivity fosters a more supportive and understanding classroom environment.

Critical Thinking: Discussing gender identity and expression encourages students to think critically about societal norms and stereotypes, promoting open-mindedness and empathy.

Psychological and Developmental Benefits

Early Support: For students beginning to question or understand their own gender identity, early education provides them with the language and concepts to express themselves. It can significantly reduce feelings of isolation or confusion.

Reduced Stigma: By normalizing discussions around gender identity and expression, you contribute to reducing stigma and misconceptions. This is important for the mental health of all students, not just those who may identify as transgender or non-binary.

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL): Understanding and respecting differences is a core component of SEL. Teaching about gender diversity aids in developing empathy, respect, and emotional intelligence among students.

Social Goals

Bullying Prevention: Education about gender identity and expression can directly impact bullying and harassment in schools by promoting understanding and acceptance.

Creating Safe Spaces: Schools that include comprehensive education about gender are more likely to be perceived as safe spaces for all students, which is crucial for their academic and social success.

Community and Parental Engagement: This can be an opportunity to engage with parents and the wider community about the importance of inclusivity and respect for all individuals, extending the values taught in the classroom into the community.

Aligning with Educational Standards

Health and Well-being: The NSES (National Sex Education Standards) describes the importance of teaching about gender identity and expression as part of students' overall health and well-being.

Anti-Discrimination Policies: Teaching about gender identity aligns with BOE Policy and guidance from NY State, ensuring that our elementary schools comply with providing a safe and inclusive environment for all students.

Implementing the Curriculum

When implementing this part of the curriculum, we know it is important to:

Use age-appropriate language and concepts.
-We will not, for example, go into detail about medical interventions
-Discussions of sexual expression will not be covered in these lessons
-Straightforward and accurate terms will be used throughout these lessons

Foster an environment of respect and curiosity, encouraging questions and open discussions.

Provide support resources for students who may have further questions or need assistance. Our school psychologists have resources available for interested families.

Engage with parents and guardians to communicate the goals and content of the curriculum, addressing any concerns they may have.

Incorporating gender identity and expression into puberty education for 5th graders is not only beneficial but necessary for fostering a holistic, inclusive, and supportive learning environment. It prepares students for the diverse world they live in, promoting understanding, empathy, and respect for all individuals.

Guidance has come from the following sources below. Please note that we are making thoughtful and age-appropriate determinations about the scope, content, and exact vocabulary taken from these resource documents.

NY State Health Learning Standards
The American Academy of Pediatrics’ You-ology: A Puberty Guide for EVERY Body, Holmes, Hutchinson, and Lowe
Ultimate Kids' Guide to Being Super Healthy: What You Need To Know About Nutrition, Exercise, Sleep, Hygiene, Stress, Screen Time, and More by Nina L. Shapiro
National Sexual Education Standards (NSES)
New York State Guidance
Gender Spectrum
We look forward to answering questions and engaging in a conversation about our rationale and approach.

Edgar McIntosh
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment

If a parent, after reading this letter and/or attending one of the presentations on the 25th where attendees will be walked through the details of the revised lessons plans, still has any uneasiness or concerns, McIntosh has provided a choice for these parents to opt their children out of the gender inclusive puberty lessons. Forms to opt out, have been sent directly to the parents of current 5th grade students.

mamogramThe following was written by Dianne Seo, DO, Breast Surgery at White Plains

It is never too early to take steps to decrease your risk for developing breast cancer. The American Cancer Society (ACS) predicts about 311,000 new cases and 42,000 deaths. Breast cancer is second only to lung cancer for cancer-related deaths in women.

I encourage you to ask your healthcare provider about which screening tests are right for you if you are at higher risk. If you are at average risk, start annual mammograms at age 40 and clinical breast exams at age 20. Mammography is a low-dose X-ray that can detect breast cancer before it can be felt. Early detection saves lives by reducing the risk of death from breast cancer and increasing treatment options.

The first step is to know your risk and discuss it with your healthcare provider: do you have any family history of breast and/or ovarian cancers or inherited genetic mutations in breast cancer-susceptible genes? What is your reproductive and menstrual history? Also address potentially modifiable risk factors associated with breast cancer.WPHospitalJan2024

Women who exercise regularly have a 10-20% lower risk of developing breast cancer than those who do not. The ACS recommends 2.5-5 hours of moderate physical activity, or 1-2 hours of vigorous activity, a week. This can look different for all of us; it can include walking for 30-45 minutes every day, taking the stairs, dancing, running, weightlifting, doing yoga, Pilates or swimming a couple of times a week.

Studies have also shown that women who have three or more alcoholic drinks in a week have a 15-20% increased risk when compared to those who do not drink. Try to limit your alcohol intake to 1-2 drinks a week or consider non-alcoholic alternatives.

If you are undergoing any menopausal hormone therapy/combination hormone replacement therapy, talk to your provider about limiting or stopping them, as well as about potential alternative options. Women who use estrogen plus progestin have an increased risk of an abnormal mammogram within the first year of taking menopausal hormone therapy, and significantly increased risk of breast cancer with 5 or more years of use.

And keep in mind that breastfeeding actually decreases the risk of breast cancer.

In summary:

· Know your risk
· Maintain a healthy weight with regular exercise and eating a whole-food diet
· No smoking!
· Limit alcoholic beverages to 1-2 drinks a week
· Limit menopausal hormonal therapy (combination hormone replacement therapy)
· Schedule screening mammograms and clinical breast exams

DianneSeoMore information about breast imaging can be found here.

Dr. Dianne Seo is a breast surgeon at the White Plains Hospital Center for Cancer Care. To make an appointment, call 914-849-7580.

Health Matters: The original version of this article was published in Health Matters, a White Plains Hospital publication.

ChaseParkChase Park: Photo by Cynthia RobertsA committee of the Scarsdale Forum is calling for far-reaching changes to Village code regarding trees after a report revealed extensive losses to Scarsdale’s tree canopy. Committee Chair Madelaine Eppenstein, who is one of the authors of the report said, “the report cites six years of permit data compiled by the Village indicating significant tree loss — of almost 1,000 trees removed with permits annually — without adequate replacement planting to maintain Scarsdale’s tree canopy. This data does not reflect trees that are removed illegally, or legally under certain circumstances”

And why is it so important to maintain the tree canopy? The Village’s tree code clearly outlines why trees are essential.

It says, ““The Village of Scarsdale finds that trees within the Village provide an important contribution to the health, safety, aesthetics and general welfare of Scarsdale residents and the community at large. Trees provide shade and aesthetic appeal, enhance green space, improve air quality, reduce energy use and atmospheric carbon dioxide, provide and promote habitat for wildlife, impede soil erosion, aid water absorption, inhibit excess runoff and flooding, provide screening, offer a natural barrier to noise, provide other environmental benefits and generally enhance the quality of life within the Village. These social, economic, and ecological benefits often increase as trees mature and the Village community's investment in trees has accrued over many years. This investment can be rapidly lost and is not easily nor quickly replaced due to the long length of time for a tree to mature. The destruction of and damage to trees and the indiscriminate and excessive cutting of trees can create barren and unsightly conditions, as well as surface drainage problems, increase municipal costs to control drainage, impair the value of real property and adversely affect the environment, health and character of the community.”

In order to protect existing trees the report calls for the Village to change the tree code to preserve the canopy by limiting which types of trees can be removed, requiring more tree replacements than currently called for and stepping up enforcement and fines for illegal tree removals.

The report goes further by requiring permits for the removal of dead or dying trees or invasive species. About these trees the report says invasives, “are still part of our canopy, providing water absorption, shade, and animal habitat. Due to the change in how residents maintain their properties and the decreasing amount of green space in our neighborhoods, invasive trees cannot spread as freely as they did in the past. These trees should be treated like any other tree that requires a removal permit and replacement.”

In light of the current building moratorium the committee is asking the trustees to examine the tree code at the same time they are analyzing the Village’s building and land use codes, as they are intrinsically tied together.

At the conclusion of the report drafted by the Sustainability and Municipal Services Committees On Environmental Protection and Preservation of Trees in the Village of Scarsdale, they make the following recommendations to the Scarsdale Board of Trustees:

1. Village formation, as directed by the Mayor and Board of Trustees, of a committee comprised of Village staff and representatives of the Scarsdale Forum, Friends of the Scarsdale Parks, and the Conservation Advisory Council, to review and implement the recommendations set forth in this Report;

2. Amend the Village Code as recommended in this Report;

3. Enforce the Village Code and amendments as recommended in this Report;

4. Revise Village staff and land use board procedures as set forth in this Report;

5. Appoint a voting member focused on environmental issues to the Board of Architectural Review. See also Scarsdale Inquirer, Letter to the Editor (Jan. 14, 2024, l

6. Institute a public education campaign and enlist the cooperation and support of the public consistent with these recommendations.

The report concludes with the following:

The six-year spreadsheet compiled by the Village regarding tree removal regulation reveals an ongoing practice of permitting the removal of trees without requiring replacements in kind, among other affirmative measures that could and should be taken to protect and preserve trees and our tree canopy. This history must be reversed before Scarsdale, our beloved village in a park, is reduced to an overbuilt and unremarkable suburb.

The report quotes world-renowned entomologist and wildlife ecologist Professor Douglas W. Tallamy who says,“We do not have the right to heat up our neighbor’s airspace by cutting down the trees on our property. . . . In short, we no longer have the right to ignore the stewardship responsibilities attached to land ownership. Our privately owned land and the ecosystems upon it are essential to everyone’s well-being, not just our own. Abusing land anywhere has negative ramifications for people everywhere."

In enacting Local Law No. 1 of 2024, the Board of Trustees has acknowledged the urgent need to reexamine Village Code provisions and related rules and regulations – as well as the practices of the land use boards and Village staff – in order to protect the character and environment of our Village. How we continue to approach development forms the basis of what our Village will be and what we leave for future generations. The Committees respectfully submit that significant steps must be taken expeditiously to amend the Village Code, to enforce the Village Code, and to enhance land use processes in order to stem the damage to our environment.”

Read the report here:

strokecareHaving brainpower in stroke patients demands medical insight and quick thinking. At White Plains Hospital, the standard of care includes the most advanced technology and services.

Each year, approximately 795,000 people in the U.S. suffer strokes — 17% of which are fatal. With one of the most compre¬hensive stroke programs in the region, providing immediate and lifesaving stroke care is an area where White Plains Hospital and its newly appointed Director of Stroke Services, Dr. Paul Lleva, is proud to excel.

Board-certified in neurology, vascular neurology, neurosonology (or brain imaging), and internal medicine, Dr. Lleva currently sees patients at White Plains Hospital Physician Associates in Somers and is working to further enhance the Hospital’s robust stroke care program. “White Plains Hospital has been building a world-class stroke program, bringing in top specialists and the latest technology and treatments,” Dr. Lleva says. “As we look to the future, our program aims to be the top advanced stroke care provider in our region and beyond.”

Recent notable advances in stroke care at the Hospital include:WPHospitalJan2024

QUICKER CLOT BUSTERS. “For every minute elapsed after a stroke, a patient may lose 1.9 million neurons,” or nerve cells in the brain, says Dr. Lleva. The team at White Plains Hospital relies on the newest medicine, called Tenecteplase, to rapidly dissolve the clots obstructing blood flow. “This drug works very specifically against the clot, destroying it more quickly and more effectively than previous medications,” he says.

THE GOLD STANDARD OF CARE. The highest-quality acute care currently available for strokes, a procedure called a mechanical thrombectomy, is currently being performed at White Plains Hospital. During this minimally invasive procedure, specially designed instruments are inserted into a large blood vessel in the groin through a small port and threaded through thin catheters to reach — and remove — blood clots in the brain within 24 hours from symptom onset.

To assist in these procedures, the Stroke Team at the Hospital also uses advanced imaging, called perfusion imaging, to differentiate salvageable brain tissue from irreversibly damaged brain tissue to pinpoint cases where mechanical thrombectomies will be most effective.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)-POWERED SOFTWARE. This modern technology guides radiologists and neurologists toward the correct intervention within seconds. “Our team uses software that will detect the amount and location of salvageable brain tissue, as well as damaged tissue,” Dr. Lleva says. “As a tool for our care team, it provides a more uniform and consistent diagnosis in rapid time.”

24/7 EMERGENCY CONSULTATIONS. At White Plains Hospital, a neurologist is always available for an emergency consultation at the bedside, either in-person or remotely. “With tele-stroke services, a vascular neurologist can expeditiously see the patients within minutes of arrival, allowing us to quickly diagnose patients and get them appropriate care immediately,” Dr. Lleva says.

WORLD-CLASS TEAM. The increasing complexity of stroke cases seen at White Plains Hospital has driven the recruitment of experts in neurocritical care and neuroendovascular surgery with decades of experience in treating and managing advanced stroke cases.

SMOOTHER RECOVERY. After stroke, some patients will develop arm and leg spasticity, language difficulty, pain, inability to walk, and limited ability to care for themselves. These complications are addressed in our outpatient stroke center in collaboration with Burke Rehabilitation to improve patients’ mobility, lessen discomfort, and restore quality of life.

To make an appointment with Dr. Lleva at 325 Route 100, Somers, NY, call 914-849-5300.

dentalcareIf you are taking care of your dental health, you could be doing more than just guaranteeing a great smile — you could also be protecting your heart. Research points to a likely connection between periodontal disease (commonly known as gum disease) and heart disease, says Dr. Joseph Leanza, Director of the new White Plains Hospital Dental Care, which opened in December 2023.

About 47 percent of people older than 30 are impacted by gum disease, which is characterized by a bacterial infection, according to the CDC. As Dr. Leanza explains, these bacteria can move through your bloodstream, generating inflamma¬tion in your blood vessels — particularly in your coronary arteries. The inflamma¬tion can make it easier for cholesterol and fats (also known as plaque) to stick to the insides of your arteries, which in turn could increase your risk for heart disease as well as a heart attack.WPHospitalJan2024

“Periodontal and cardiovascular disease have many risk factors in com¬mon, such as smoking, poor diet, and hypertension,” says Dr. Joshua Latzman, Cardiologist at White Plains Hospital Physician Associates. Modifying these risk factors, he states, is crucial for optimal oral and heart health.

There are also multiple ways to help re¬duce your risk of gum disease — and fight it if you’re already showing symptoms, such as gums bleeding when you brush or prolonged bad breath, says Dr. Leanza. The dental expert has been affiliated with White Plains Hospital for more than 25 years and is now practicing in a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility at 79 East Post Road in White Plains.

“The first step is to go to the dentist regularly for evaluation,” he says, adding that twice-a-year cleanings are recommended; in some cases, going three or four times a year, or seeing a specialist like a periodontist, may be necessary. Your dentist may also suggest advanced treatments like scaling — a more intense cleaning — which can help fight gum disease. In addition to routine exams and cleanings, White Plains Hospital Dental Care offers the full complement of dental services, including oral cancer screenings, X-rays, crowns and bridges, dentures, extractions, fillings, implants, and root canals.

Dr. Latzman also emphasizes that patients who have undergone heart valve surgery should take extra precaution prior to a dental visit. “The bacteria that is introduced from the mouth into the blood¬stream during dental procedures can place those with prosthetic heart valves at risk for a condition known as endocarditis, so speak with your physician about whether you should take an antibiotic prior to a dentist visit,” he says.

Proper at-home care, including brushing and flossing, is equally as important. Dr. Leanza notes that your dental hygienist can recommend specific products, like a water flosser, or even certain toothpastes or oral rinses that can help specifically with gum disease.

“Prevention is always the best way to approach health issues,” says Dr. Leanza. “The earlier we start, the better, but it’s nev¬er too late to improve your dental health.”

To make an appointment at White Plains Hospital Dental Care, call 914-849-3488.

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