The teacher, identified as Jenny Thomas of Sutter Middle School in Sacramento, Calif., has been criticized for having students watch graphic footage of abortions, with narration by anti-abortion activist Anthony Levatino, MD.
“I looked at the remains of a pre-born child whose life I had ended, and all I could see was someone’s son or daughter,” Levatino says in one voice-over.
Thomas is a science teacher at the school and was covering seх education earlier this month as part of her curriculum. In addition to the controversial anti-abortion videos, she played the Nick Cannon music video “Can I Live?” for students. The video shows Cannon, the TV personality formerly married to Mariah Carey, rapping about being grateful that his mother decided not to terminate her pregnancy.
Parents have insisted that Thomas is a good teacher, but felt compelled to complain about her approach to the abortion issue. In the words of one mother, the videos were “biased, misleading, and graphic.”
Thomas has since reportedly apologized for the presentation. According to Alex Barrios, spokesman for the Sacramento City Unified School District, officials “will address this matter with the seriousness it demands.”
He added that the “completely inappropriate” lesson did not “meet the district’s approved family life and sexuality curriculum.”
The Sacramento Bee reports that district policy does not shy away from including controversial issues in its curriculum, but it does insist that teachers “exercise caution and discretion” and “ensure that all sides of a controversial issue are impartially presented.”
Lila Rose, founder and president of Live Action, which produced the videos in question defended the material in a statement.
“These videos were designed to be teacher aids and are medically accurate, created in consultation with a group of doctors and experts, and have been viewed online nearly 100 million times,” she claimed. “The abortion procedure series are medical animations, not graphic footage, and accurately depict the most prevalent abortion procedures in a format suitable for teens.
“The district’s own policies advocate for sex education classes that ‘help students understand the biological, psychological, social, moral, and ethical aspects of human sexuality and shall comply with the requirements of law and administrative regulation,'” she continued. “How can students understand the biological, moral, and ethical aspects of abortion without knowing what the abortion procedure entails for both the developing child and mother? We encourage the Sacramento City Unified School District to be a leader in accurate abortion education by using the abortion procedure videos in all middle school science, sexuality, and family life classrooms.”
Meanwhile, Phyllida Burlingame, reproductive justice policy director for the ACLU of Northern California, told the Sacramento Bee that Thomas “should have known that the materials presented were not compliant with the law” and said that the presentation only offered one perspective.
“These issues must be presented in an unbiased way, to avoid shaming or stigmatizing students who have faced these issues or may face them in the future,” she said.
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