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Human sexuality in the classroom

June 02, 2007

Re "Too sexy for my students," Opinion, May 29

Much as some parents might wish to ignore it, these are truths: Younger and younger children are engaging in sexual activity; much of their knowledge of things sexual is learned from peers; and many immature kids are intellectually unprepared to make age-appropriate decisions about sex. Nevertheless, a teacher for an after-school language enrichment program is fired because she tried to provide, in a sophisticated, classroom environment, precisely the kind of language-learning experience we want kids to have.

Confronted by one of those "adult" terms, right in the context of her teaching tool -- the much-heralded novel "About a Boy" by Nick Hornby -- Sarah Miller gently explained the term's meaning and stressed it isn't a subject her students need to be thinking about at the tender age of 12. What's wrong with this picture?

DOUG HARRIS

Sidney, N.Y.

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Many people who believe in the beauty of human sexuality also feel that the discussion of it with children requires sensitivity to the individual child, and in many cases, a social and moral context consistent with a family's individual traditions and beliefs. This is why we like to be told of any presentation at school, so we are prepared to discuss it with our child. If I had been told of a teacher discussing fellatio with children in the context of vocabulary enrichment, I would have thought it was inappropriate, that the teacher had shown poor judgment, and I would have spoken with the teacher and the principal. Miller states that she is not sorry she read them that book; as a parent, I am not sorry she was fired.

FRED APPLEGATE

Burbank

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