Education
Vagina graffiti. Image: Eric Owens! Vagina graffiti. Image: Eric Owens!  

Idaho science teacher uses the word ‘vagina’ in sex-ed lesson, gets investigated

The state of Idaho’s professional-standards commission is investigating a science teacher in the tiny, rural town of Dietrich, because four parents have objected to his use of the word “vagina” in a 10th-grade biology lesson on human reproduction.

In addition to saying “vagina,” McDaniel stands accused of describing the biological processes that lead to a human orgasm, discussing birth control, and telling unseemly jokes to his sophomore charges, reports the Times-News of nearby Twin Falls, Idaho.

The group of unnamed parents has also complained that there was an in-class video clip detailing genital herpes infection.

Still another complaint levied by the concerned parents is that McDaniel showed the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” in class. The parents say showing professional politician Al Gore’s agitprop on climate change amounts to endorsing a political candidate on school property.

A final claim by the irate parents — and arguably the most serious one — is that the science teacher revealed confidential student files to some unspecified person who is not a parent. No further information on this allegation appears to be available.

The teacher, Tim McDaniel, received a letter from the Idaho State Department of Education itemizing the allegations against him.

McDaniel, who says he has taught science classes in Dietrich for 18 years without criticism, is fighting the charges.

“I don’t include anything that the textbook doesn’t mention,” McDaniel claimed, according to the Times-News. He added that he allows students to opt out of sex-ed coursework if they want.

As for featuring “An Inconvenient Truth” in his classroom, McDaniel said he assigned a response paper afterwards.

“I’m not looking for one answer,” he told the Times-News. “I just want them to be able to explain what they believe.”

Dietrich Superintendent Neil Hollingshead said he doubts McDaniel will lose his job.

“It is highly unlikely it would end with his dismissal,” Hollingshead told the newspaper. “Maybe a letter of reprimand from the school board.”

McDaniel said he has no intention of signing a letter of reprimand.

“I’ve done nothing wrong,” the science teacher told the Times-News.

In the meantime, a Facebook petition called “SAVE THE SCIENCE TEACHER!!” has come into existence since this kerfuffle began. Almost 300 people have expressed solidarity with McDaniel thus far.

Follow Eric on Twitter