Parents outraged by 'vulgar' sex education lesson in Croton-Harmon HS
A lesson on sex education at Croton-Harmon High School is being called vulgar and inappropriate by some parents.
The controversary comes after a photo taken by a student in a health class for ninth and tenth graders began circulating among parents in the district.
The photo shows a white board with a list of sex acts, some of which are expletives.
A parent who did not want to be identified said the lesson made her school age teen uncomfortable.
"I just don’t think it belongs in a classroom,” the parent said. “I think there are other ways that you can use to teach these topics."
Republican candidate for governor and former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino held a press conference outside the high school Tuesday after he said parents contacted him about the lesson.
He said this type of curriculum is vulgar and should at minimum require parental consent to be taught.
“This is putting in their minds ideas of what they can do or what they should do or what they think they can do and some of this is beyond inappropriate,” he said.
The press conference on the matter was crashed by a group of parents and residents holding pride flags.
Elisa Silverglade was among the crowd.
She is the parent of a ninth-grade student at the school and said she felt the lesson was taken out of context.
"It was a list generated by the students which shows that these ideas and concepts and words are already there in the minds of our students,” Silverglade said.
The district tells News 12 the lesson is part of its health curriculum developed several years ago following an off-campus sexual assault.
In this exercise students anonymously generate words they've heard related to sexual activity.
The words were not defined but instead lead to a discussion on the overall connotation of these terms.
Students who have taken the class and experienced this lesson said it addresses questions they have in age when just about anything can be found online.
"The things that we are exposed to as teenagers as youth it’s not like we live in a bubble anymore its more important to talk about actual sex ed than just learning it off the internet," Anders Nelson, a 12th grade student.
The district released the following statement: There are many factors that go into curriculum planning, including teaching standards, best practices, teacher professional development, responsiveness to students, and reflection of current events. Many may not have the full context in which aspects of our Health curriculum were developed; several years ago some school district students were involved in a reported off-campus sexual assault. In the aftermath of that situation, the district formed our Culture of Respect Task Force, which continues to be active with participation from parents, students, and community members. At that time, the district also engaged with professionals in the area of mental health and health education to design relevant learning experiences, with the goal of updating how our Health curriculum addresses consent and sexual health. One of those learning experiences begins with a discussion about consent, including the nuanced and sensitive language around that topic. Students are then asked to anonymously generate words or phrases they have heard or used related to sexual activity, some of which depict potentially unhealthy dynamics about sex. The individual words and phrases shared by the students are not defined within the class; instead, there is a discussion about the overall connotation of these terms, and the importance of using respectful language around this sensitive topic. This and related learning experiences have been implemented over the past several years and are documented on our district’s curriculum maps, which are available on our website for public viewing. In addition to these activities’ alignment with the national standards and State guidance, they have been presented as exemplars to professionals throughout the state at a conference of the New York Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. Learning experiences such as this one are important for our students, and we trust our highly trained, dedicated, and passionate professionals in their facilitation of these experiences.