Fox News is reporting that the principal of the Onalaska Elementary school in Onalaska, Washington, a small town about 73 miles south of Tacoma, was giving a lesson about HIV-AIDS when a child asked about other forms of sexual activity. The principal then told the children about oral and anal sex in such a graphic manner that parents say their children came home very upset.
One of the parents, Jean Pannkuk, told Fox News Radio that he knew something was wrong when his 11 year-old daughter came home from school and was unusually quiet and withdrawn. Pannkuk and her husband sat down with her and asked her to explain what had happened at school that day. The child then described, in graphic detail, what the teacher had taught the class.
“Steam was coming out my ears,” Curtis Pannkuk said. “I was very, very upset. I understand that they need to teach these kids sex education – but 11-year-olds? I have a problem with that. The wife and I were very – very upset.”
Another parent, Kadra Gilliland, said she was shocked by the incident because she had always trusted her "little country school."
"I didn’t think they were going to talk about such things," she told Fox News Radio. "I trusted my school – that’s the bottom line and they crossed the line.”
School superintendent Scott Fenter defended the principal and said he didn't think she did anything wrong.
“I think the principal handled it appropriately at the time; she only gave factual information, no demonstrations,” Fenter told local news station NWCN.com. “Because in sixth grade they start becoming sexually aware and you’ve got to teach them ahead of time.”
He later told Seattle’s Q-13 Fox News that the lesson she used came from “state-adopted curriculum.”
“In reality, she stuck to the curriculum,” Fenter said. “It’s pretty difficult to talk about STDs or sexually transmitted diseases without explaining what that is, or how it’s transmitted.”
Washington state has required some kind of sex education starting in the fifth grade since 1988.
“Kids leaving 5th grade and moving into middle school start getting exposed to a lot more information, and we know that`s the age where many children start to become sexually active, unfortunately,” Fenter told the Fox affiliate. “And that`s a scary thought, (but) that`s the truth.”
Curtis Pannkuk said if a curriculum allows children this young to be taught about oral sex, he believes the curriculum needs to be changed.
“One of the other parents said it well – they raped the minds of the ten year old, eleven year old kids,” he told Fox News Radio. “Children were traumatized.”
Still, Fenter insists parents were sent a notice informing them about the HIV/AIDS program and that they had a right to review it, but few parents chose to do so.
Jean Pannkuk confirmed that she knew about the class “but I didn’t know it was going to be that explicit.”
Kadra Gilliland said the bottom line is that parents across the nation need to pay more attention to what their kids are learning in school.
“Be more involved in your school,” she said. “See what your kids are learning. Pay attention. Talk to your kids.”
Many Onalaska families are now dealing with the aftermath of the class.
“She should be bouncing on the trampoline, riding horses – doing normal kid stuff,” Gilliland said about her daughter. “We don’t need to talk about that stuff at that age.
But now they do.
“The damage is done,” Pannkuk said.
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