Parents of Dalton School children were enraged to find out their first graders were being taught sex education that included videos explaining masturbation to their kids, the New York Post reports.
The parents, who discovered the lessons last fall, voiced their complaints to the school’s administrators, but were told that they had "misinterpreted" the lessons.
The lessons were taught by Justine Ang Fonte, the now-notorious health and wellness educator at Dalton who had previously received backlash for teaching an explicit "porn literacy" workshop to juniors at Colombia Grammar & Preparatory School.
One of the videos used by Fonte’s lesson features a cartoon version of herself, which talks about kids sometimes "touching themselves" for pleasure.
"Hey, how come sometimes my penis gets big sometimes and points in the air?” asks the little boy, which Fonte responds by explaining what an erection is. "Sometimes I touch my penis because it feels good," the little boy continues.
"Sometimes, when I’m in my bath or when Mom puts me to bed, I like to touch my vulva too," says the little girl. Fonte talks about the usage of anatomically correct terms like vulva or penis, instead of "cutesy words."
Fonte has assured parents that the lessons were teaching kids not to touch themselves in public, and that she doesn’t use the word "masturbation" in her lessons.
Parents of Dalton School kids spoke to the New York Post about their concerns and complaints on the lessons.
One lesson that talks about consent had parents split, with one parent saying that teaching consent can be valuable in protecting children from abuse, but another parent said that it went to the extreme by saying parents and grandparents have to ask for a hug first.
"Literally parents are supposed to say to their kids, May I hug you?" said one parent.
"I’m paying $50,000 to these a–holes to tell my kid not to let her grandfather hug her when he sees her?" one mother said that another parent told her.
Also included in Fonte’s lessons were teaching on gender assignment, identity, and expression.
"Kids have no less than five classes on gender identity – this is pure indoctrination," said a Dalton mother. "This person should absolutely not be teaching children. Ironically, she teaches kids about ‘consent’ yet she has never gotten consent from parents about the sexually explicit, and age inappropriate material about transgender to first graders."
"We are furious," another Dalton mother said. "We were horrified to learn this was shown to our first-grade 6- and 7-year old kids without our knowledge or consent. But it’s so hard to fight back because you’ll get cancelled and your child will suffer."
The Dalton School said that only a small group of parents had "misinterpreted" the content of lessons, but had quietly removed the video regarding kids touching themselves from their curriculum, sparking parents to say that the school is playing mind games.
"We are not 'confused.' We are in fact just seeing very clearly for the first time what a ‘progressive’ education really means at Dalton," a mother said. "The fact that the school then gaslit parents into thinking we are confused is abysmal."
According to the New York Post, Fonte is allegedly being funded by a $450,000 grant given to the Dalton School in 2021 by hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Foundation. Ackman’s ex-wife Karen is reportedly on the school’s board of trustees.
"What we are seeing across the country is that many schools have lost sight of the purpose of education, and are hiding curriculum and teaching materials from parents," a spokesman for FAIR, the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism, told the New York Post.
A Dalton spokesman told the New York Post that "As part of Dalton’s comprehensive Health curriculum for students, a lesson on Gender & Bodies included two evidence-based and age-appropriate videos approved for students 4 years and older. These videos align with nationally recognized methodologies and standards. We consistently review our Health curriculum, making sure that the content is developmentally appropriate and, if necessary, we adapt our curriculum accordingly. We will continue to listen carefully to parent feedback, respond thoughtfully to community concerns, and develop lessons that are in the best interest of our students, respect our community’s values, and correspond with best practices."