DENAIR (CBS13) – Is it appropriate to ask middle school students about their sexual preferences? It’s a question Denair School District leaders are dealing with.
The school principal stopped a middle school teacher from handing out a worksheet asking that question to students this week. Now some parents say they’re concerned.
It was the first day of school at Denair Middle School when a 7th and 8th-grade science teacher handed out a worksheet called “the gender unicorn.”
“I think a lot of parents are really upset about that,” said one parent.
Another mom of two kids in the district told us, “My kids don’t need to be around that.”
The handout is of a graphic from Trans Student Educational Resources. It shows various forms of gender identity.
It asks questions like, “What is your gender identity?” and, “What is your gender expression?”
Parents we spoke with are upset about these questions also on the worksheet, “What are you sexually and emotionally attracted to?”
Jenn Weenk’s son has this teacher for science class and received the worksheet in class.
She said, “That has nothing to do with teaching about being transgender, or trying to educate people that is an extremely personal question.”
District Superintendent Terry Metzger says the teacher who handed this out goes by the title, “Mx” instead of “Mr.” and wanted the students to understand why.
“He used a handout to expose some of the components that make up gender. This is not a typical course of discussion for science,” Metzger said.
This teacher instructs 7th and 8th grade Science has been with the district for two years. Metzger said the teacher didn’t ask permission from the school Principal to hand out the “Gender Unicorn” worksheet.
“I do think he was just trying to clarify for the kids, he just used the wrong tool to do it,” she said. “I’m not sure that this was the right handout period. This asked kids some specific questions. I don’t think that was ever the intent.”
The middle school principal happened to be doing rounds in this classroom at the time. She saw this content and immediately asked the teacher to stop.
“When she saw the handout, she thought it probably wasn’t appropriate, particularly for seventh and eighth grade,” she said.
Parents we spoke with say this was not the time or place for this discussion and something their kids felt was not optional.
“He wasn’t told that it was optional, it was put in front of him and he was expected to fill it out,” said Weenk. “I don’t think that it should be a huge focal point in the classroom.”
Metzger said, “There is a lot to learn from this: both the positive reaction and the negative reaction.”
We asked whether the handout goes against district policy. Superintendent Metzger said state law requires gender identity to be discussed during a sexual health class setting, but not in science class.
We also asked if this teacher will face any disciplinary action. Metzger said she can’t discuss personnel matters with CBS13.
We did reach out directly to this teacher for comment but have yet to hear back.