Principals in the Chicago Public Schools have been ordered to undergo more training on how they administrate sex-education classes after the settlement of a lawsuit against a principal who planned to bring in a sex columnist to speak to students.
The Thomas More Society, which challenged the district on behalf of parents of students in Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, said the settlement agreement dismissing the lawsuit requires each administrator “to be provided with a copy of the Chicago Public Schools Policy manual for Sexual Health Education and the Chicago Public Schools Sexual Health Education Toolkit, which include details on parental notice, opt-out, and instructor approval requirements.”
The problems arose in April when the magnet school scheduled an event for sex columnist and dancer Nicolette Pawlowski to teach students in the school’s sexual education programming.
The lawsuit charged that the school administration broke Illinois law and Chicago Public School policy.
“The school violated the Illinois School Code’s required emphasis on abstinence and avoidance of risky sexual behaviors by booking Pawlowski, whose extensive online articles advocate casual hook-up sex, pornography use, and other risky sex behaviors,” the society explained.
“Whitney Young leadership disregarded Chicago Public School policy that mandates a two-week advance notice of scheduled workshops, advance provision of information about the materials to be taught, allowance for meaningful parental opt-out, and use of a CPS-approved instructor.”
Sally Wagenmaker, a parent who also is special counsel with the Thomas More Society, had contacted school officials because notice of the programming came vie email less than 48 hours prior to the event.
“No details on the subject matter were provided, other than the name of the presenter and her presentations. Additionally, no option was provided for parents or guardians to opt their students out of the program, until Wagenmaker raised concerns,” the society said.
The legal action was filed when Principal Joyce Kenner and assistant principal Lynn Zalon rejected requests for information regarding the presentation.
“This is a victory for all Chicago public school parents and students,” said Wagenmaker. “It is a great reminder of the importance of parental attentiveness and the need to be willing to step up and speak out when something is wrong.”
The complaint said Pawlowski was scheduled to address students on several topics, including “Straight Talk on Bodies,” “Not the Birds and Bees: Real Talk on Relationships, Sexuality, and Consent” and “University Life: Sexuality and Dating.”
But no opt-out was available and no other notice provided.
Additionally, school officials refused to provide details about the speaker and the materials to be used.
That violated the Illinois School Code, which states, “An opportunity shall be afforded to individuals, including parents or guardians, to examine the instructional materials to be used” in sex education classes.
When the parents looked into the issue, they found Pawlowski’s articles including “Porn hardcore enough for Republicans and 11- year-olds” and “Why hooking up safely with others is normal.”
Her writings included an anti-abstinence diatribe: “I was pretty open about sexuality and relationships since my early teens. But there is one incident in my life that I can definitely say was the main impetus for the work that I do now … I vividly remember the second speaker. Petite, with long blond hair pulled up in a bun, she entered the room with determination. Her mission: to convince my class to abstain from sex until marriage. [T]he most disturbing act was her closing message to my class. Her eyes drilled into each of us as she said the following, ‘My husband can look straight into the eyes of his sons and tell them that he truly loves them because he waited for me.’ Such falsehoods are still being spewed in classrooms, churches and organizations.”
She also advocated: “One night stands can be exciting. They allow you to explore new positions and techniques, not to mention new people.”
She suggested: “Pornography can fulfill every desire and fantasy that you have had since childbirth. … Trust me; there is a porn out there for you.”
The dancer also advocated for anything goes, writing: “You are completely normal! Whether you fantasize about being spanked, want to suck your partner’s toes, get turned on when you watch two men lick each other’s butts or don’t have any sexual desire for any of that.”