Chicago A health teacher made eighth graders read aloud explicit questions about oral sex and masturbation during a sex-education lesson at a suburban school this week, outraging parents who demanded the teacher be disciplined.
The principal at Wolcott School in Thornton, Ill., said he learned of the lesson early Friday after numerous phone calls from parents and directed the health teacher to apologize to his class for the two-day lesson.
Parents say this apology isn't enough. They plan to attend the Thornton School District board meeting next week to demand that the 27-year-old teacher, Scott Groff, be suspended or fired.
"My daughter brought it to our attention because she was disgusted with it," said Grady Braley, father of a Wolcott 14-year-old. "There's certain things at her age they need to know. But this was a how-to manual. It's creepy, and I'd like to know why he's still teaching."
Braley's daughter, Sandi, said she objected to the lesson, but the teacher told her it was part of the school's "human sexuality" curriculum.
"I just felt really uncomfortable talking about this in a class with boys and girls," Sandi Braley said. "I was like, 'Mr. Groff, why do we need to learn this?' He just looked at me and said, 'Calm down, calm down.'"
Even a local organization that is pushing to get more comprehensive sex-education programs into Illinois schools said the material and the way it was taught was "really over the top."
Jonathan Stacks, campaign manager for Illinois Campaign for Responsible Sex Education, gasped when he heard the details of the "frequently asked questions" read aloud in the eighth-grade class. He said the material was not age-appropriate, and never should have been taught without discussing such sensitive material with parents first.
"This is really getting into the aspect of pleasure ... and the mechanics of how to have good sex," Stacks said. "It goes way beyond what the national medical associations recommend for a comprehensive program."
Stacks said most Illinois schools shy away from teaching anything but abstinence, AIDS and human development, which is what is mandated by state standards. Though his organization advocates going beyond abstinence and discussing some sexual issues and contraception more openly with teens, Stacks said, "It's really important we don't go to the other extreme."
Principal Stephan Harman said the teacher made a serious mistake in judgment by giving the students the handout and having them read the material aloud. Harman said the teacher told him "he didn't read it thoroughly enough."
The four-page handout was printed from a British Web site called avert.org. The site promotes an international organization that seeks to educate the public about AIDS and HIV prevention. Among other information, the site offers two links about sex - one "mainly for young people" and the other one titled "general questions about sex." The teacher made the printout from the "general questions" link.