A group of parents in Ohio sued the Hilliard school district, alleging that teachers are having “intimate conversations about sexual behaviors” with students without parental consent.
The lawsuit, which was filed earlier this week in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, refers to teachers as “activists” and alleges that they are taking steps to conceal their conversations with children as young as six years old.
The eight parents are requesting an injunction to stop conversations between teachers and employees who have not been trained on the subject, claiming that the current environment is a “recipe for indoctrination and child abuse.”
School Superintendent David Stewart released a statement on Wednesday addressing several facets of the lawsuit and condemned some of the conduct by teachers in the district.
The lawsuit’s parents objected to the use of “surveys” with students, with questions asking students what pronouns they prefer teachers use in class and what pronouns they want used in communication between the school and parents.
“While this was not a district or even a majority of our teachers’ practice, when this issue was brought to my attention, I made it clear to our administration that Hilliard City Schools does not support surveying students on this topic or in this context of getting to know new students,” Stewart said.
He also stated that he has followed up with teachers and administrators who are now aware of the guidance on this subject. Stewart also noted that while not best practice, it is not illegal.
Stewart also weighed in on the lawsuit’s criticism of teachers’ “I’m Here” badges. The badges were distributed by the Hilliard Education Association, a teacher’s union, to show support for students in the LGBTQ community.
The badges had colored stripes on the front that said “I’m here,” and a QR code on the back that linked to websites with more resources.
“We discovered that by exiting some of those support resources, it was possible to reach objectionable material that was inappropriate for students,” Stewart explained.
The code links to the “NEA LGBTQ+ Caucus” website and resources from gender activist organizations including Scarleteen, Sex, Etc., Gender Spectrum, The Trevor Project, and Teen Health Source.
One of the linked resources, Teen Health Source’s “Queering Sexual Education,” promises to “empower youth” and includes a how-to guide for performing “anal sex,” “bondage,” “rimming,” “domination,” “sadomasochism,” “muffing,” and “fisting.” One of the materials offers instructions on how to, “[put] a fist or whole hand into a person’s vagina or bum.”
Stewart added that the issue has been discussed with the teachers’ union president and the QR code on the badges will now be covered so it is not visible to students or teachers. No instances of students accessing the QR code materials have been found, according to Stewart.
Hilliard Education Association President Linna Jordan initially defended the badges in a September 2022 statement to Fox News Digital, asserting the badges are symbols of support for students “who may need it” and could serve as a critical lifeline for LGBTQ students.
She also claimed that “extremists” are “amplifying the playbooks of a national network of political radicals” and are manufacturing controversy about the badges to “weaponize” LGBTQ issues and distract Ohioans from real issues.
Other states’ parents are speaking out about classroom material they believe is inappropriate for adolescents, including an Oklahoma parent who warned of a teacher instructing students on how to access “pornographic” books through a QR code. The QR code directed students to the Brooklyn Public Library Books Unbanned website, which is intended to provide students with access to books that have been removed or otherwise challenged from libraries and schools.
The superintendent’s statement also addressed a portion of the lawsuit focusing on students’ medical or mental health, and agreed with parents that when mental health consultations are required, counselors, not teachers, should be called in.
However, Stewart also said the lawsuit include “misstatements of facts and mischaracterizations” and said “broad-brush accusations” do little to advance the district’s mission.