A Minnesota school district responded to allegations Friday that it had asked students to role-play in gay and transgender sex scenarios before classmates as part of its sex education curriculum.
Richfield Public Schools said reports suggesting it forces students to comply with gay and transgender sexually explicit content are inaccurate.
"We do NOT teach elementary students about anal sex, show them graphic images, or ask them to role play, as has been reported by some media outlets," a district statement said. "There are no activities in the secondary curriculum that have students role-playing situations in front of the entire classroom."
Allegations that the school district asked secondary school students to engage in role-play scenarios as a gay or transgender couple deciding to have sex and had teachers discuss sexual intercourse with elementary school students arose after footage from a Sept. 20 school board meeting was released on YouTube.
Parents at the school district expressed consternation at the meeting, and several residents testified.
"When is it age-appropriate to teach a kindergartner what a clitoris is?" a woman asked. "When is it appropriate to require ninth graders to role-play a queer couple discussing sex?"
Another speaker, Julie Quist of the Child Protection League in Minnesota, said the school district's 3Rs curriculum, meaning rights, respect, and responsibility, is the most "explicit available."
"It sexualizes children and normalizes sexual behavior at a young age, teaching sexual pleasure, masturbation, anal, and oral sex, and that consent is all that is needed," she said.
Such immersion in sexually explicit material is dangerous and conflicts with religious and moral values, many of the speakers argued.
Several news outlets reportedly took these claims as fact, and the district said the "problem is, the information being shared is inaccurate and misleading."
At the elementary level, students learn "one to two age-appropriate health and safety lessons per classroom," aligning with national education standards, the district said.
Only a portion of this primary school curriculum stems from the Advocates for Youth 3Rs, the district reported.
"Topics may include the anatomically correct names for body parts, a person's right to keep their body safe by expressing their level of comfort with touch, and identifying a safe adult to confide in if needed," according to the statement.
At the secondary level, schools do not engage with the 3Rs and use two or three Positive Prevention PLUS lessons, the district said.
Such a lesson plan "utilizes a trauma-informed approach, incorporates foundational social-emotional learning practices and effective teaching methodologies that have demonstrated results in reducing adolescent sexual risk behaviors," according to the statement.
Two activities do ask students to work in pairs or small groups "to practice negotiation and assertiveness skills through scripted interactions," the school district said, adding that no role-playing scenarios similar to the ones alleged are conducted.
Regarding residents who said the lessons infringe on the students' religious and moral convictions, the district said families of students at all levels are given the tools to opt out of lessons.
"We support ALL students and inspire and empower each individual to learn, grow and excel," the district said. "We stand by our equity and gender inclusion policies and we thank our community and students for their support and commitment to this vital work."
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Original Author: Luke Gentile