A Connecticut middle school is under fire after it said an assignment asking eighth-graders to compare their favorite pizza toppings to their sexual preferences was sent out as a "mistake."
At John F. Kennedy Middle School in Enfield, students were recently given an assignment titled "Pizza & Consent," according to Parents Defending Education.
The assignment talks about consent, then asks, "What's pizza gotta do with it?"
"We can use pizza as a metaphor for sex! When you order pizza with your friends, everyone checks in about each other's preferences, right? Some people might be vegan, some might be gluten-free. Others might love pineapple, while others prefer pepperoni. Some might not like pizza at all. If you're a vegetarian, but your friend is a meat-lover, sharing a pizza is going to bring up a lot of issues. You don't know who you can share pizza with unless you ask!" The assignment states.
"The same goes with sex! You have to check in with your partner(s) and ask for their preferences. Your partner(s) might be comfortable with one sexual activity, but not another. Maybe your partner(s) only want to be touched a certain way, or maybe your partner(s) prefer to use certain language. Or maybe they don't like or want sex at all. You'll never know if your wants, desires, and boundaries are compatible with theirs unless you ask," it continues.
The worksheet then asks students to draw their favorite type of pizza, equating their favorite topping to their favorite sexual acts.
"What's your favorite style of pizza? Your favorite toppings? What are your pizza no-nos? Now mirror these preferences in relation to sex! Here are some examples: Likes: Cheese = Kissing Dislikes: Olives = Giving oral," the worksheet states.
"Obviously, you might not be able to list all of your wants, desires, and boundaries, but hopefully you'll start feeling more comfortable about discussing them," it adds, continuing by stating, "For those of ya'll who don't like pizza or sex at all, feel free to draw out another food favorite or include non-sexual activities."
After Parents Defending Education exposed the worksheet on Monday, Enfield Public Schools Superintendent Christopher Drezek said during a Tuesday school board meeting that the assignment had been sent "inadvertently" to eighth-graders, adding that it was a "mistake."
"The simple truth was it was a mistake. And I know that there are some who may not believe that. I know there are some who don't necessarily maybe want that answer," Drezek said, according to Fox News. "In this particular case, I didn't even get a chance to because the person who made the mistake jumped ahead of it before I was even notified that it had happened."
He said that the assignment’s content was "inappropriate," and noted that there's no "hidden agenda."
"There was no secret cabal to indoctrinate kids on something. They sent the wrong document," Drezek. And I'm not going to perpetuate this story any longer on their behalf. So that's what happened. And none of us are happy that it happened. No one feels worse that it happened and the person that did it."
According to Parents Defending Education, Brie Quartin, Enfield Public Schools’ Health and Physical Education Coordinator, responded to concerned parents’ emails with an apology.
"The incorrect version, as opposed to the revised version of this assignment was mistakenly posted on our grade 8 curriculum page, and was inadvertently used for instruction to grade 8 Health classes. I caught the error after our curriculum revision in June, but failed to post the intended version," she said, adding: "I own that, and apologize for the error."
"The correct version of the assignment is for students to work in small groups to craft a pizza with toppings (no behaviors associated with said toppings) that would make everyone happy/comfortable using non-verbal communication only. Students are then asked to reflect and discuss how thoughts or feelings can be confusing or miscontrued [sic], if we rely on non-verbal cues/communication alone," she continued.
"The parallel to be taught here is that when discussing pizza topping it is important that your preferences are clearly communicated to avoid any misunderstanding. This discussion then leads into how students can identify when consent it either present or not," she concluded.
According to parents who contacted Parents Defending Education, the school quickly removed the assignment from their website.
"I’m not sure how a teacher accidentally asks for the personal sexual preferences of 8th graders without any indication it is completely inappropriate to do such a thing?" one parent said.