I happen to actually know this teacher. And I know her well enough to be fairly sure of her intentions and motivations.
I’m not as familiar with the school, but I am aware that it is considered an alternative, private school, not mainstream.
There are a few reasons I’m less than impressed by the parental reaction to the field trip to Smitten Kitten. I personally don’t think I would have chosen that store (or any other adult store) to explain to kids about differences in sexuality, and understanding what sex can mean to them, but I’m not teaching there, and I’m not in her shoes.
- The parents signed a universal permission slip at the beginning of the year. And I’m fairly sure that it stated clearly that the parents were handing over permission for the school to do whatever they want (within the structure of laws, of course) with the children.
- The parents intentionally enrolled their children in an alternative school whose philosophy includes student chosen direction to the curriculum. As parents, they should know their children well enough to know the kind of input that their child(ren) are likely to have in regards to field trips.
- As a private school, and with its clearly stated philosophy, one of the subjects they ARE going to teach is sex education. And I’m quite sure that the parents were aware that their children were being given sex education. How is going to a sex shop any different than showing and talking about the different forms of sexuality?
Would I have made the same choice if I were standing in her shoes? No, I would not have. But I do feel strongly that kids need to be taught about sexuality, about their bodies, and about body autonomy.
I do believe that sex education is important for kids, because getting their information on sex from peers is NOT conducive to a healthy attitude about sex in general. I even believe that teaching kids that abstinence is their best choice in a non-shaming way is a positive idea. Why? Because more often than not, someone under the age of 18 (hell, sometimes people under the age of 30 need to learn to stay celibate) is not yet ready for the responsibility of having a sexually active life. I’m not just talking about pregnancy here. I’m also talking about safe sex, about experimentation that can lead to serious psychological or physical damage if done incorrectly, and about so many other things that even adults may not have a completely healthy attitude about.
I believe that her motivations were pure. I believe she felt she was doing the best she could for those students. And I know for a fact that she stands firm on her principles and ethics. Perhaps it may have been a poor choice, but I have to applaud her willingness to teach such an important subject.