WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — Some parents say an English teacher’s assignment at Heritage High School crosses the line.
“She was asking questions of these kids that the day she went to her job interview with the district, they couldn’t ask her,” said parent Dina Bartus.
The assignment labeled “Diversity Inventory” asked students to answer subjects like their gender, sexuality, religion and socioeconomic status.
“A lot of the things written on the sheet were very vulnerable things for a student to disclose about themselves,” said Chelsea Gibson, a licensed marriage and family therapist with Simply Thrive Therapeutic Associates.
The 10th graders at Heritage High were also asked about people in their life, like their friends and doctor.
“Needless to say my son was a little shocked this was happening in what was supposed to be an English class,” said Bartus.
Gibson says the experience likely caused anxiety for some.
“Those are things that are often difficult to share with peers, let alone people in positions of authority over you,” said Gibson.
She says it’s important to show teens you’re an ally they can come to with that information — if and when they choose to.
“Being forced to disclose an aspect, a very vulnerable aspect of who you are when you aren’t ready, can often feel stressful, anxiety-inducing,” said Gibson.
Gibson says assignments like this can have a reverse effect, causing students to feel they can’t share the information.
“Because they don’t feel their process is being respected or that they are the holder of that information,” said Gibson.
Instead, she suggests making your support known.
“Just reassuring them, ‘I will never force you to share anything about yourself and it’s always okay to say no.’ “Parents say they want kids to know they’re not defined by a box.
“Kids should look for things they have in common with each other and it should have nothing to do with the color of their skin, how much money their parents make or their sexual preference,” said Bartus.
We reached out to all nine school board members about this.
Chairman Jim Martin said, “I believe this is a curricular issue that should be addressed by he principal and school system staff. I believe it is critical that elected Boards do not weigh in on curricula. All indication indicates that the principal took clear action once notified of the issue. As far as diversity curricular resources, many are provided through the office of equity affairs.”
In a statement released to CBS 17, the Wake County school district said they reviewed the lesson and stopped it immediately. They said they’re working with teachers on how to appropriately have these conversations.
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