Parents at an elite private school in Manhattan are furious to learn that their children had been shown sex-ed video clips explaining the concept of masturbation and why their family members should not touch them without consent, a new report says.
First-grade students at Dalton School, an institution with a price tag of about $50,000 per year, watched clips from the animated series AMAZE during a sex-ed lesson last fall, according to the New York Post. The lessons were taught by Dalton’s director of health and wellness, Justine Ang Fonte, who has recently faced criticism for teaching an explicit “pornography literacy” course to junior students at the Colombia Grammar & Preparatory School nearby.
Parents took issue with Fonte’s graphic lesson about self-touching. She reportedly assured parents that the idea was teaching kids not to touch themselves in public, and that she didn’t use the word “masturbation.”
Some parents also took issue with another portion of the lesson where students were taught that even their own parents or grandparents should not touch them without permission. While some believe that teaching about consent can help children better protect themselves from potential abuse, others argue that it went a little extreme.
“Literally parents are supposed to say to their kids, May I hug you?” said one Dalton parent, according to the Post, which noted that all parents featured in its report specifically asked to remain anonymous due to fear of retaliation.
“I’m paying $50,000 to these [explicit] to tell my kid not to let her grandfather hug her when he sees her?” a parent said to another parent.
In a statement to the Post, a Dalton spokesperson said as part of the school’s “comprehensive Health curriculum” for students, the lesson included two “evidence-based and age-appropriate videos approved for students four years and older” and “align with nationally recognized methodologies and standards.”
“We consistently review our Health curriculum, making sure that the content is developmentally appropriate and, if necessary, we adapt our curriculum accordingly,” the spokesperson said.
The controversy comes after Columbia Prep held a workshop titled “Pornography Literacy: An Intersectional Focus on Mainstream Porn” for some 120 students in the junior class. The presentation, led by Fonte, reportedly included explicit images of partially naked women, popular search tags and genres on pornographic websites, and how young women make a profit using suggestive or pornographic photos and videos.