Teaching about Controversial Issues and Use of Controversial Materials
It is the policy of the District to provide for the study of controversial issues in order that the students may have an opportunity to study such issues in a protected environment.
A controversial issue is defined as any problem, subject, or question about which there are significant differences of opinion. These issues usually have no easy resolution and discussions may create strong feelings among our community. The goal should not be to reach consensus or a single agreed-upon opinion, but to give students the opportunity to express their ideas and to listen to those who have different points of view. Students have the right to form and express their own points of view and opinions without jeopardizing their position in the classroom or in school. Thus, students must have access to relevant information and have the right and responsibility to study all sides of these issues and what they mean, as subjects usually become controversial issues because of differences in interpretation or the values people use in applying the facts.
Controversial materials are subject to disagreement as to appropriateness because they refer or relate to a controversial issue or present material in a manner which is itself controversial. Examples of such materials include, but are not limited to, those that depict explicit sexual conduct, graphic violence, profanity, drug use, or other socially undesirable behaviors, or materials that may be polarizing along racial, ethnic, political, or religious lines.
Films and/or videos rated R, PG-13 or PG shall be considered controversial in accordance with this policy. X rated and NC-17 rated films and videos shall not be used in district schools. PG, PG-13, and R rated films and videos shall be considered controversial at the elementary school level. PG-13 and R rated films and videos shall be considered controversial at the middle school level. R rated films and videos shall be considered controversial at the high school level.
Teachers may use controversial learning materials and discuss controversial issues if they contribute to the attainment of the Colorado Academic Standards. Student learning must be the goal of teaching about controversial issues. This policy shall not be construed to prevent teachers from teaching about the many religious, ethnic, and cultural groups and their contributions to our world heritage consistent with Colorado Academic Standards. Teachers have the obligation to deal with such issues in a professional manner, fostering an atmosphere in which students feel free to form and express their own points of view. The teacher has the responsibility to be objective and present all sides of an issue. Issues are either intrinsic to or grow out of the regular classroom learning situations and contribute to the attainment of course objectives and programs of study.
When determining controversial issues to be taught or controversial materials used, the scope and depth of the issue as well as the student’s maturity, background, and experience will be considered. Teachers do not have the right to indoctrinate students to their own viewpoint. Freedom of students to learn, not indoctrination, must be the goal of all involved.
Adopted: April 25, 2022
IMB-R, KEC, Public Concerns/Complaints about Instructional Resources
KEF*, Public Concerns/Complaints about Teaching Methods, Activities or Presentations
KEF*-E, Public Complaints about Teaching Methods, Activities or Presentations Form
Huerfano School District RE-1 Walsenburg, Colorado