Attention high school science teachers. If you choose to use the proper name for our lady parts, you might get yourself into a world of trouble. Tim McDaniel, a 10th grade science teacher at Dietrich school in Idaho, is facing an investigation due to the fact that he used the word ‘vagina’ when teaching about the female reproductive system. Apparently, four parents were upset about the lesson. Dietrich, however, says that in his 18 years teaching science at the school, he has never done anything but teach straight from the textbook. Further, he says that he gives students who are uncomfortable with those particular lessons the option of not attending. To quote:
“I teach straight out of the textbook, I don’t include anything that the textbook doesn’t mention. But I give every student the option not attend this class when I teach on the reproductive system if they don’t feel comfortable with the material.”
Sounds good to me. Though, frankly, I believe that it is the parents who are likely uncomfortable, rather than the students. Here in the information age, kids know way more than what we give them credit for. For example, I have a friend who caught her kid looking at lesbian porn, and he was completely unfazed at having been caught, telling his mother than he found it “attractive.” Kids are not idiots, and it would be better to teach them the real deal than to let them find out from more questionable sources.
According to McDaniel, in his entire tenure at Dietrich school, he has never received a complaint. However, there is reason to believe that some parents could have a political agenda. According to 2002 Glenmary Research Center data, 66 percent of the residents of Lincoln County are affiliated with the Mormon Church. Students who are supporting their teacher via social media say:
[T]here are a couple people in the community that are trying to get Mr. McDaniel fired for teaching the reproductive system, climate change, and several other science subjects. All these subjects were taught from the book and in good taste. He cares for each of his students and goes the extra mile to help them all. Now is the time for us to help by supporting him!”
Another subject that seemed to anger parents that McDaniel taught is climate change. He said that he showed the film An Inconvenient Truth in class, and asked students to write about what they thought about climate change. He says:
“I’m not looking for one answer, I just want them to be able to explain what they believe.”
Luckily, the school superintendent, Neil Hollingshead, says that the investigation will likely not end in McDaniel losing his job.
“It is highly unlikely it would end with his dismissal. Maybe a letter of reprimand from the school board.”
McDaniel, however, says that even that letter would be inappropriate.
This sort of thing makes you worry about what you teach. That’s not right.”
He also says maintains that he is undeserving, and would not sign the letter.
“I’ve done nothing wrong. I told them I won’t sign it.”
I have to agree. It is these parents that are wrong, not Mr. McDaniel. He deserves a medal for teaching the truth, rather than a reprimand. But, never underestimate the power of religious nuts hellbent on keeping children ignorant. Sad, but true. Godspeed, Mr. McDaniel. Stand your ground, and keep doing what you do.