Superintendent suspends use of controversial sex ed material

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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

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