Shawnee Mission suspends material for human sexuality instruction after inquiries

The Shawnee Mission School District has suspended the use of a supplemental material used in teaching human sexuality in its middle schools after it made the news.

SMSD-logoThe poster was connected to a program called ‘Making a Difference” that is being used for the first time this year. Human sexuality is taught in seventh and eighth grade as part of the health curriculum. The action was taken after the district was contacted by a local television station following up on a call it had received.

Shawnee Mission Superintendent Dr. Jim Hinson sent out a letter to parents Friday regarding the material and the suspension. District spokesperson Leigh Anne Neal said “as a result of news coverage of this issue, it was important to provide accurate and clarifying information to parents about this topic.”

In Shawnee Mission, parents can review curricular materials and the district honors parent requests for non-participation during the human sexuality discussion. Neal said, “concerns were expressed that the poster, which was intended to be part of a contextual classroom discussion form a supplemental instructional resource material, was posted in the classroom and they were not aware that the information was being discussed.”

Dr. Hinson’s message read:

January 17, 2014
Dear Parents of Shawnee Mission Students,
This week, the district’s health curriculum related to human sexuality has been in the news.  Concerns were expressed over a poster that was hanging in a classroom at a middle school that was part of a supplemental instructional resource.  We recognize that there is a broad range of opinion regarding how this type of information should be shared, and it is important that parents are informed regarding instruction in their child’s classroom.  At this time, the district has suspended the use of the Making A Difference instructional resource supplement pending a detailed review of the material.

In Shawnee Mission, parents may review curricular materials.  The district honors parent requests for non-participation for their child during the human sexuality-instruction.  Parents may contact their child’s teacher to review curriculum and instructional materials, and consent for non-participation forms may be requested from the school principal.
Our goal is to effectively communicate with parents on sensitive issues, so that parents are able to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of their child.

Sincerely,
Jim Hinson
Superintendent