Some Boulder, Colo., High School officials have been given a “reprimand” for setting up and taking students as young as 14 to a seminar in which the children were told to “have sex, do drugs,” but a request from the state legislature for further action has been turned down.
Helayne Jones, the president of the Boulder Valley District School Board, read a letter at a public meeting on the issue stating that “actions” were taken on the complaints the seminar generated, and several Boulder High staff members were given “verbal reprimands.” In addition, a letter was sent to parents about the situation.
But the letter said no dismissals are contemplated over the seminar called “STDs: Sex, Teens and Drugs.”
Requests for that level of punishment came from a number of parents outraged their children were subjected to the seminar, as well as members of the Colorado Legislature.
All of the Republican state senators on the Senate Education Committee had written to the school. “The minors who sat through this dubious discussion were subjected to the most dangerous kind of input any youth could get from a presumed authority figure: a green light to engage in destructive behavior,” the letter said.
The senators said the production, a part of the Conference on World Affairs of the University of Colorado, was “a disgrace.”
Sen. Steve Johnson, R-Fort Collins, signed the letter.
“This is ludicrous. Here we have a school that actually required students to attend an assembly where they were urged to try sex and drugs,” he said. “Is that really the biggest challenge we face with today’s youth – getting them to try sex and drugs? It’s like the people in charge over there are operating in some alternative universe.”
It was comments from forum panelist Joel Becker, a psychologist from UCLA, that sparked the most outrage.
“I am going to encourage you to have sex and encourage you to use drugs appropriately,” Becker said. “Why I am going to take that position is because you are going to do it anyway,” he continued. “I think as a psychologist and health educator, it is more important to educate you in a direction that you might actually stick to. So, I am going to stay mostly on with the sex side because that is the area I know more about. I want to encourage you to all have healthy, sexual behavior.”
Lawmakers noted that majority Democrats in the state legislature have decided to impose a mandatory comprehensive sex education plan on students, but refused to adopt a Republican bill setting statewide standards for math and science knowledge.
“Instead of giving more Colorado high school grads a shot at succeeding in college or the job market, some House Democrats decided that kids needed to know even more about contraception,” said Sen. Josh Penry, R-Fruita. “As we could see in Boulder, kids are already getting plenty of indoctrination on sex.”
The controversy has refused to die down. Even though the seminar was in April, for nearly an hour at this week’s board meeting, members listened to more concerns. It was at that meeting Jones read a letter assembled by the board in which members declined to give any further discipline to Supt. George Garcia, who, as WND reported, earlier confirmed that a number of school policies were violated in presenting the seminar to students, but that they would continue anyway.
“The existing partnership between the Conference on World Affairs and Boulder High School is a positive and beneficial one for engaging students in a thoughtful and thought-provoking discussion of often controversial issues,” Garcia has said. He has said violations included the fact that attendance should have been optional, not mandatory, and other perspectives should have been included.
WND also has reported on similar assemblies that have been used by schools to promote homosexuality, including one where parents were banned from the event, and a second where WND reported school officials ordered their 14-year-old freshman class into a “gay” indoctrination seminar after having them sign a confidentiality agreement promising not to tell their parents.
At this week’s meeting, several students also approached the board to discuss a petition they had assembled that would demand an apology from Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, who has reported extensively on the seminar fiasco. At one point he called it an “educational outrage.”
Junior Monsur Gidfar said his petition targets O’Reilly because, “students need to be given a little more credit as far as their capacity to make good decisions.”
On his show, O’Reilly mocked the effort. “So now there are some students at Boulder High School who are trying to get a petition to make me say I’m sorry about reporting the story and all that nonsense,” he said.
Boulder High student Daphne White and her mom, Priscilla White, who brought the original complaint to the board, also want the school board to do more and spoke at the meeting. Priscilla White asked that Jones be replaced and Garcia’s duties be suspended until he retires this summer. She also wants a statement from incoming Supt. Chris King about whether he agrees with Garcia’s belief that the panel was “appropriate overall.”
“What happened at Boulder High … along with everything that it represents and points to, has given our family a glimpse of a future hell,” she told the board.
Still others worried about the lack of accountability for such decisions. “I wonder how you [experiment responsibly] with meth,” asked Ellie Lake, “and I wonder how many might just try it now.”
The senators’ letter specifically sought the dismissal of Garcia, and Boulder High Principal Bud Jenkins.
A transcript of the seminar’s messages has been posted online by an organization called the Boulder Valley School District Watch.
The panel included Becker; Andree Gerhardt, a community engagement leader with Ernst & Young; Antonio Sacre, an LA-based performing artist, and Sanho Tree, of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington.
They were assembled for the discussion as part of the university’s Conference on World Affairs, which has been described as a forum for anything.
Conference leaders also defended the radical comments to students as young as 14, saying the forum speakers talked “candidly and sensibly to the high school audience.”
The conference was begun in 1948 to discuss international affairs, but has expanded to become a conference, as it describes itself, on “Everything Conceivable.”
Past participants include Henry Kissinger, Yitzhak Rabin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ted Turner, Arianna Huffington, Ralph Nader and George McGovern.