An Oregon high school is facing severe backlash from parents after a health teacher allegedly assigned students to write a short story about a sexual fantasy.
Kirk Miller, health teacher and football coach at Churchill High school in Eugene, allegedly wrote that the essays should not “involve penetration of any kind or oral sex,” but that they should reference at least three items from a list of suggestions including “romantic music, candles, massage oil, feathers, a feather boa and flavored syrup,” reports Oregon Live.
The apparent goal of the assignment was to demonstrate that it was possible to “show and receive loving physical affection without having sex,” according to screenshots shared with on social media by Churchill High parents.
“Shown is an assignment given to high school students at Churchill High School in Eugene. This was given by Mr. Miller, a health teacher and football coach,” said one parent in a public Facebook post. “Why a teacher and coach feels entitled to the sexual fantasies of minor aged male and female students is beyond my understanding. This is completely inappropriate and sickening.”
“Can you imaging having to look your teacher or coach in the eye knowing he has knowledge of your most intimate imaginations. This has NO BUSINESS in school or anywhere else. I am sharing this to bring attention to whats going on and will be sharing it elsewhere as well,” concluded the parent.
Katherine Rogers, whose 16-year-old daughter attends Churchill High but was not in Miller’s class, told Oregon Live about another assignment set by Miller that was titled “With Whom Would You Do it.”
“List on the handout the initials of a male or a female that you would do each activity with,” read the instructions for the assignment. “You may use the same person for multiple activities.”
Parents said the activities listed were sexual in nature, ranging from kissing to oral sex. Rogers believes the students felt “mortified, awkward, and creeped out,” by such assignments. She said some students had chosen to respond to the fantasy assignment from the point of view of a character in the cartoon Kung Fu Panda to avoid being too personal.
“What are we promoting?” Rogers asked. “What is an adult doing with this information?”
Prinicpal Missy Cole responded to the concerns of parents in an email Thursday saying that the school will work with Eugene school district officials to review its high school health curriculum, which is called Our Whole Lives (OWL). Oregon Live reports that the curriculum was developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ.
“Although the curriculum was developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ, this volume is completely secular and free of specific religious doctrine or reference,” reads the description of the second edition of the book published in 2014. “However, the underlying values of the program reflect the justice-oriented traditions of both denominations.”
It remains unclear whether or not the OWL curriculum calls for students to confess their sexual fantasies to adults or reveal with whom their would like to perform certain sexual acts.
“At this time, the assignment has been removed from the class syllabus and will not be a part of students’ grades. The Our Whole Lives curriculum is utilized by many districts across the state and is endorsed by the Oregon Department of Education,” said Cole. Churchill High School is part of the 4j school district.
Peter Rudy, a spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Education, said in a statement Friday that the OWL curriculum is not on the state’s list of recommended instructional materials for high school health classes, but explain that in Oregon, school districts may choose to use other instructional materials not listed and there is no requirement to notify the Department of Education when doing so.
Rudy also said that the state does not track districts’ curriculum choices and so does not know whether other districts are using Our Whole Lives.
“Alongside their local community, educators, and adolescent health experts, school districts decide what curriculum to use to meet Oregon standards and legal requirements,” Rudy explained, stating that sexuality education instruction must be “comprehensive, inclusive, not fear- or shame-based, medically accurate, and enhance students’ understanding of sexuality as a normal and health aspect of human development.”
Rogers questioned how the district had come to sign off on this curriculum.
“The district reviews these curriculums before they get approved, right?” asked Rogers. “Did they actually read this? If this was reviewed, how did it slip through the cracks? I could see this easily becoming a national scandal.”
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