Teacher Asks 8th Grade Students “How Comfortable Are You in a Gay Bar?”
SPRING HILL – With the country at odds on almost every issue regarding race, religion, gender, and lifestyle, it’s no surprise that our schools have become more of a breeding ground for belief systems than an institution for teaching “The Three Rs.”
You may remember an incident back in February, where an 11-year-old Staten Island, New York girl was asked to answer a questions regarding President Donald Trump and President Barack Obama. The fill in the blank questions asked, “President Trump speaks in a very superior and _________ manner insulting many people. He needs to be more _________.” The following questions asked, “Barak Obama set a _________________ when he became the first African American president.” The girl’s father responded to the teacher with a handwritten note, stating “Please keep your political views to yourself and do not try to influence my children on them.”
Last Friday an 8th grade student at Fox Chapel Middle School, who we will refer to as “Michael,” brought home a questionnaire that made Michael feel “uncomfortable” and infuriated his mother and father. Michael’s parents asked not to be identified, due to their direct affiliation to the Hernando County School Board, but they believe the questions were completely inappropriate for a middle school aged student.Students in Mrs. Cox “Leader in Me” class were asked to rate between 1 and 4 on how comfortable they were in certain hypothetical situations. But most of the 41 “How Comfortable Am I” questions were related to sexuality, gender identity, race, religion and a variety of other adult situations.
The second question on the assignment asks students how they would feel if “A friend invites you to a gay bar.” Most 8th graders aren’t even old enough to enter a bar, regardless of the clientele. Question 14 states “your women studies instructor is a Muslim woman who wears a headscarf and full length robe.” Question 9 states “Your assigned lab partner is a Fundamentalist Christian.” The questions go on to ask about sexually transmitted diseases, affirmative action, and even welfare.Michael told his father, “Some kids were complaining that it was racist, so she told us to just throw it away.” When the children said they were going to show their parents, they were told “no.” according to Michael’s parents. “I find it to be a bit racist in so many ways and I have no idea what this has to do with education,” says Michael’s father.
According to Michael, Leader in Me is “A class where students lead and they help do things around school. Be proactive – begin with the end in mind – put first things first – think win-win – seek first to understand , then to be understood – synergize – sharpen the saw. The seven habits.” But did Mrs. Cox step outside her role as a teacher by asking her 13 and 14 year-old students multiple questions that pertain to sexual orientation, race relations, and religious stereotyping? Did she have an agenda? Officials with the Hernando County School Board believes this to be the case and took immediate action by releasing Mrs. Cox from her employment with Hernando County Schools.
In a statement, a spokesperson with the Hernando County School Board says “We’ve been made aware that a FCMS teacher left a supplemental assignment for students to complete in her absence. In no way, does this assignment meet the standards of appropriate instructional material.
After being made aware of the assignment, school administration began an investigation and has taken immediate disciplinary action. This teacher was within her probationary period and has been released from employment.”
It should be noted that Fox Chapel Middle School’s P.E. Teacher, Betty Cox, is not the teacher involved in this incident.
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