Health

Elite NYC private school teacher who taught first graders about masturbation and sexual consent says she stands by her curriculum

Summary List PlacementJustine Ang Fonte, a sex educator who resigned after parents complained about her first-grade lesson plans, stands by her teachings. She told the New York Times the courses and workshops were age-appropriate and designed to keep children safe. "I equip them with a way that they can exercise body agency and consent, by knowing exactly what those parts are, what they are called, and how to take care of them," Fonte told the Times. Fonte faced harassment from parents who enrolled their children in elite New York City preparatory school Dalton, the Times reported. The criticism came after parents learned...

Dalton School, New York

Summary List Placement

Justine Ang Fonte, a sex educator who resigned after parents complained about her first-grade lesson plans, stands by her teachings.

She told the New York Times the courses and workshops were age-appropriate and designed to keep children safe.

“I equip them with a way that they can exercise body agency and consent, by knowing exactly what those parts are, what they are called, and how to take care of them,” Fonte told the Times.

Fonte faced harassment from parents who enrolled their children in elite New York City preparatory school Dalton, the Times reported. The criticism came after parents learned Fonte taught their first graders about sexual consent, masturbation, and porn. She worked as Dalton’s sex educator for 12 years before resigning in early June.

Sex educators and child development experts outside the situation told the Times they found Fonte’s lessons appropriate and useful for healthy psychological and sexual development.

Fonte says Dalton School parents doxxed her

A Dalton School representative told the Times that Fonte “helped to develop an exemplary K-12 health and wellness program” and that her work should not be “overshadowed by unwarranted misinformation and hateful rhetoric.”

Parents of Dalton students disagreed. Petitions to end “the presentation of unorthodox sexual identity and sex education classes” circulated on Instagram. The petition also sought to end the teaching of critical race theory and “programming that uses the oppressor-oppressed narrative and that employs collective guilt to shame white students,” the Times reported.

Fonte said she noticed more and more threatening emails in her inbox, and told the Times she felt unsafe.

The New York Post published a story on the conflict in May, quoting parents critical of Fonte. Parents told the Post they were “furious” and said teachings on consent and genitalia terminology were “pure indoctrination.”

One anonymous mother of a student told the Post another parent said, “I’m paying $50,000 to these a–holes to tell my kid not to let her grandfather hug her when he sees her?”

Sex educators and child development experts say Fonte did nothing wrong

Fonte continues to pursue sex education outside of Dalton, with plans to write a children’s book, create a podcast, and consult for television, the Times reported.

She defends the lessons she taught, and other sex education experts are behind her.

According to Jennifer S. Hirsch, professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and an author of “Sexual Citizens: A Landmark Study of Sex, Power and Assault on Campus,” teaching sexual education and consent from a young age prevents future potential mistreatment, like sexual assault.

There are age-appropriate ways to teach these topics, according to Jennie Noll, a professor of human development and family studies at Penn State. Noll oversees a program for 14,000 second graders where they learn the proper names for their genitals, what healthy boundaries entail, and what to do if they’re crossed.

“First graders need to be taught that other people don’t have a right to touch their bodies,” Hirsch told the Times. “And just as importantly, they don’t have a right to touch other people’s bodies. How many politicians have we seen in the news who never got that lesson?”

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