In November of 2019 a parent voiced her concerns to me over a Frederick County Public Schools, 8th grade lesson on sex that involved a youth sized wooden penis prop. In light of recent events happening in our schools I am no longer comfortable waiting to share this information with the public. Parents need information in order to look out for the best interests of their children.
I was holding off because I was trying to be fair and get a complete understanding. I sent in a request under the Public Information Act for more information. After waiting for three months with no communication coming from FCPS, I no longer feel obligated to wait.
In late November I met with an FCPS Curriculum Specialist to inspect the “prop” mentioned above. There was more than one, there was an entire “contraception kit” that went with a particular lesson on condoms. The lesson I saw instructs the teacher to walk around the room with condoms in his/her hand and demonstrate how they are used.
I was bothered that the penis prop is more toy like, while the vagina prop is very clinical. Is the “toy” design to make the student feel comfortable handling it? Is that comfort supposed to transfer over into real life?
There are vaginal condoms and dental dams in the “kit”. Based on that I assume there are demonstrations on their use as well? If not, why not? Not that I believe any of it should be taught by a school teacher, but it’s a legitimate question. Is FCPS demonstrating how to use vaginal condoms and dental dams? Isn’t that teaching “how” to have sex? Those were things I was hoping to learn from the PIA request I sent in for the associated lessons.
On December 3, 2019 I asked the FCPS Physical Education, Health and Athletics Curriculum Specialist to supply me with the teacher lessons that went with the Contraceptive Kit and Condom Lesson I had just reviewed. I voiced my concerns over the lesson at that time.
It’s March, 2020 and I am still waiting for not just the documents, but acknowledgements of my December 3, December 10 (to FCPS) December 10 (to FCPS Legal), January 17, and January 23 inquiry and follow-ups.
While we wait, more children are being presented information on casual acceptance of sexual practices taught by who? Was the substitute teacher in the Thomas Johnson pornography allegation incident ever in a classroom with a wooden penis in his hand demonstrating and describing how to put on a condom? Talking about anal sex?
Because FCPS has been completely unresponsive to my e-mails, I have asked the State of Maryland Office of the Attorney General Public Access Ombudsman’s Office to intervene.
These are serious questions that highlight the reasons some parents are concerned about “sex” education being taught in public education. Parents get to decide what the moral code of their children will be. They also get to decide if they believe their child is old enough to hear the lessons, BUT they need to know the specifics in those lessons.
What I thought I would see during my appointment at Central Office was unexpected. The wooden penis prop itself wasn’t as bad as I imagined, until you put everything together. The props, the lack of transparency from FCPS, the lesson itself, seeing the phrase “a penis that goes inside an anus” on an FCPS lesson are all causes for angst.
Tomorrow, I’ll share what I inspected and reviewed at FCPS Central Office.
UPDATE: Part II can be found here.