Superintendent suspends use of controversial sex ed material

Warning: This story contains terms that some may find offensive or inappropriate, reader and viewer discretion is recommended.

SHAWNEE, Kan. — Dr. Jim Hinson, Shawnee Mission School District Superintendent, sent a message to parents on Friday about the questionable poster that was hanging in a middle school classroom. In the letter, Dr. Hinson said the material was under review and during that time wouldn’t be used, and recognized the importance of parental involvement in the instruction of such material in sexual education classes.

Hinson letter

Mark Ellis, a father of a 13-year-old student at Hocker Grove Middle School, complained about the curriculum after his daughter took a picture of a questionable poster hanging in the classroom. If she hadn’t taken the picture, he says he never would have known about the material.

Ellis initially assumed it was a student prank, until he called the school and found  it was part of the curriculum.

“Why would you put it in front of 13-year-old students?” he asked.

The poster asks the question “How Do People Express Their Sexual Feelings” and lists things like “oral sex” and “grinding”. He contacted the school principal and was told it was teaching material.

“It upsets me. And again, it goes back to who approved this? You know this had to pass through enough hands that someone should have said, ‘Wait a minute, these are 13-year-old kids, we do not need to be this in-depth with this sexual education type of program,’” he told FOX 4 earlier this week.

District spokeswoman, Leigh Anne Neal said the poster was actually part of our middle school health and science materials, and so it is a part of district-approved curriculum. She said it was meant to be part of a lesson, not as a stand-alone poster.

“Without the context of teacher-led discussion, I could see that there might be some cause for concern,” she said in the original report.

In his letter Friday, Dr. Jim Hinson said the curriculum material would be suspended for now. His letter is below:

Dear Parents of Shawnee Mission Students,

This week, the district’s health curriculum related to human sexuality has been in the news. Concerns were expressed over a poster that was hanging in a classroom at a middle school that was part of a supplemental instructional resource. We recognize that there is a broad range of opinion regarding how this type of information should be shared, and it is important that parents are informed regarding instruction in their child’s classroom. As this time, the district has suspended the use of the Making A Difference instructional resource supplement pending a detailed review of the material. In Shawnee Mission, parents may review curricular materials. The district honors parent requests for non-participation for their child during the human sexuality-instruction. Parents may contact their child’s teacher to review curriculum and instructional materials, and consent for non-participation forms may be requested from the school principal.

Our goal is to effectively communicate with parents on sensitive issues, so that parents are able to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of their child.

Sincerely,

Jim Hinson

Superintendent

16 comments

  • Ted Tred Spence

    This is what happens when we “trust our administrators” to do the right thing. Surely, someone on that board had a clue this was inappropriate?

    Kind of like being told you cannot pray in public schools. Ask any of the teachers/kids that lived through the tornado in Norman OK or Goodland KS if they prayed? I’ll be not only the teachers & kids pray but everyone who wanted to live, prayed!

    • grokking42

      @Ted – children and adults are permitted to pray in school. What is not permitted is a school sponsored prayer. This is because public schools are public institutions and are not allowed (per the Constition) to promote any religion. Organizing a school prayer is promoting religion.

  • michel

    I want to thank this father for making us aware of what’s being taught in our schools. I do not think it’s appropriate for a middle school student nor do I think it’s the schools responsibility to educate our children on such explicit acts. This goes way beyond sex education!

  • bluetree

    Why was this poster in the school? Because everything on it is already happening!

    Really, you think that the posters and in school education is the only situation where students of this age have come across the situations above? Have you been to a middle school lately? Have you heard the talk in halls or seen what teachers are up against? It starts at home, and that goes both ways! Yes, maybe this is not your student.Apparently you have a student who does not hang with that crowd, experiment or is promiscuous. But I bet if you checked your students phone messages, Facebook friends or even talked to them, you would see that what the school is trying to get a handle on has already arrived for many students around them. I would say, get involved and get in the schools and see what the kids are up to in todays world. There is a huge range of activity and maturity and for some of the students, this info you are trying to stop should have come earlier. I know because I have an older teen who talked to me about what she saw and heard from STUDENTS. If your teen is not there, they are surrounded by other teens who are. Ask your administrator, in some cases, this type of activity you are trying to hide your students from is already in the grade schools. Again, it starts at home, get involved.

    • Chris

      When you remove the moral compass, you will get lost. Rather than demand more support for ever increasing laciviousness so we all get a false sense of acceptance, would it not be wise to seek the Godly wisdom contained in His Word, if 85% of our population says they are Christians, then what is it we are doing wrong. There were 27 school shootings between Sandy Hook and the one in Philly today. When we were a more moral nation, we did not have these problems. Lets get real and stand againt the forces that are destroying the greatest nation that ever existed.

      When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.

      I say Kudos to the Father who said “not my kid”.

  • MaLinda RaNae

    I would not have been happy either to have my child “exposed” to this type of educational material. That being said, when we received information from school about things being taught, and were given the option to opt out, allow our student to participate, and/or attend ourselves, we attended ourselves. In 2nd grade, we attended the good touch/bad touch, stranger danger class. My husband, myself and one other parent were the only ones present. (As far as parents go) Did we worry if our daughter would be embarrassed? Nope…because it’s not up to her if we go or not. In fact, the counselor that was present, stopped the 3 of us afterwards and thanked us for being proactive. She is now a Senior in high school, we have a Goddaughter that is in 7th grade, and oh the conversations we have. The middle school student is privy to way more than our daughter was 5 years ago. It sickens and saddens me at some of the things our Goddaughter knows/hears/talks about. I believe morals, standards and self worth (among so many other things) does start at home. Unfortunately, there aren’t many parents who want to deal with it, so they let the educators do the job. Typically, those are the parents whose children do things against the grain, and then get mad because they had no idea what was going on with their child. I’m very impressed this young girl took the photo and knew she could confide in her father, and that he took action. My children are 21 and 17, both live at home are students. I have all of their passwords, codes, etc. If they have nothing to hide, there’s no reason I shouldn’t. And what educational board authorizes such a teaching tool? Glad we’re almost done with the public school system. Now to worry about my grandchildren, Goddaughter, and Great Nephews….

  • Richard Hunt

    So all you folks that are complaining will thorough educate your children? or will we have uneducated youth having sex because they don’t know any different? look if the material is to much for your child remove them however if your child has a teen baby or herpes at 16 we know why?

  • Dan Beyer

    Anyone who says that Abstinence Education doesn’t work isn’t thinking logically but is ideologically driven! Abstinence is 100% effective against pregnancy! Logically. Abstinence is 100% effective against sexually transmitted diseases! Logically. Abstinence is 100% effective against early/unplanned parenthood! Logically. Teaching self control is NOT a bad thing, but a good thing to do! Logically. For anyone to say we need to take that tool out of the collective toolbox doesn’t really care about kids and is totally agenda driven. Abstinence Education DOES work when given a fair chance. But this poster has absolutely nothing to do with Abstinence Education. It is yet one more of the innumerable examples of the continual sexualization of our children that goes on every day in our schools. And it’s being more and more promoted to younger and younger children all the time. That’s criminal. And it’s hypocritical from those who claim they want to prevent students from pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases!

  • Kris Edler

    As a secondary school teacher, I am disturbed that content like this was approved for use in middle school curriculum. In fact, descriptive material of that nature doesn’t even belong in a High School classroom. This goes too far beyond the role of “education”, and it’s not enhancing the mind, rather, it’s defiling and infringing upon it. My opinion is to leave this up to the parents within the family, where this subject matter was intended to be taught.

  • R. Scott

    What is scary is that most parents don’t realize that their children already know EVERYTHING that is on the list and many of their children have already tried quite a few of them!! Don’t hide your heads in the sand or get all up in arms about what’s being taught! You’re making it seem like what is being taught is more exciting and daring by raising hell about it! TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN and reinforce what the schools are teaching….these are NOT activities your children should be doing!!!

    • R. Scott

      Robert….
      I think you misunderstood me.
      Our daughter knew it before she was 13. She learned it, watching “R” rated movies on Netflix and MTV after the parents went to bed at her friend’s house when the parents assured us the kids would not be doing anything like that when they had a sleep over. We were livid.
      What she learned at school was that just because they knew what it was, did not mean they should do it and why they should abstain. I have no problems with them teaching sex education in the schools. At least they’re getting the truth, not some glossed over romanticized version of it in some screwball comedy on Netflix at a friends house with no intelligent adult there to answer questions.
      Children are exposed to too much ‘information’ online, in the movies, through their friends, what they overhear at their own house, and believe it or not, at church! The true stories I could tell you…but, this is about sex education in the school system…
      When they are on the verge of 13 and already have been experiencing their period if they’re a girl and a wet dream if they’re a boy, or if they’ve accidentally discovered masturbation on their own, IT’S TIME they knew the truth.
      Our children know more than we give them credit for and they don’t get it from SCHOOL. By the time it’s taught there, they already know it! We should be thankful the school is educating them and answering their questions in a honest and frank discussion.
      Hiding your head in the sand, or screaming that the school shouldn’t be teaching this stuff is idiocy on the part of the parents! The kids already know. ASK THEM…we did and we were SHOCKED at how much she knew and how much of it was correct.
      It’s what they don’t know that is the problem and I am THANKFUL that she learned that at school or at home where she felt comfortable asking questions that she got intelligent answers to.
      What upsets me is parents like the one in this story….They Have No Idea!

  • grokking42

    I am surprised at how backwards my school district has become since I graduated from the Shawnee Mission school district in the early 90s. Comprehensive sex education is 100% necessary in the world today. If kids are not given the correct information about sex, sexuality, pregnancies, and STDs, they will assume that what their peers and the world tells them is 100% correct. And, I know the information my peers gave me when I grew up in the 80s was very skewed and incorrect.

    Do we wish to have educated children or do we wish to raise a generation of “sheltered” children who get all of their information from peers and dubious sources? I am hopeful that the material will be retained and the truth about sexuality will be taught to our children.

    @Ted – children are permitted to pray in school. What is not permitted is a school sponsored prayer. This is because public schools are public institutions and are not allowed (per the Constition) to promote any religion. Organizing a school prayer is promoting religion.

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