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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?


Sidney, N.Y.


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.



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