National Organization Calls Board Member's Idea Censorship - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

National Organization Calls Board Member's Idea Censorship


GEORGETOWN, De. - At the Indian River School District, the books have already been selected for a new middle and high school health course. Now, a committee is combing through the books, to select which lessons to keep, and which to get rid of. But it's comments from one school board member about a section on sexual orientation, that has enraged members of the LGBTQ community, and has now brought in national organizations as opposition.

The National Coalition Against Censorship, in collaboration with many other organizations including the Delaware ACLU, wrote a letter to the office of Superintendent Susan Bunting, voicing their concern over comments made by school board member Shaun Fink, in which he said all mentions of sexual orientation should be removed from the curriculum.

"Not only would removing the materials undermine education," said the coalition in the letter. "And violate First Amendment principles. But it would also send a chilling message to the school district's LGBTQ students, parents, and community members."

Fink has been very vocal that he believes the school is no place for lessons on sexual orientation.

"There's nothing wrong with teaching kids to respect everyone," he said in a September interview. "But that doesn't mean we have to teach them to agree, to accept, or to consider normal things that the Lord say are not."

On Tuesday WBOC caught up with Fink again, to ask about the letter. He said that the letter was an ironic attempt to "censor" him from expressing his beliefs.

"They're trying to censor my biblical point of view," he said. "Just because I believe in Jesus Christ. And just because I hold the Bible out as God's truth, they're trying to stop me from having a say in the argument."

Fink's comments created an uproar in the gay and lesbian community. Senior at Sussex Central High School and member of the gay community Cole Haden started a petition against the removal in September.

"I don't think Fink realizes that his words have greater implications," Haden said. "That students lives are at stake by saying such hurtful things."

Haden said that it was crucial that the curriculum include information about sexual orientation, showing that it is in fact "normal" to be gay.

"I think that a health curriculum should be all inclusive," he said. "And it should provide information for all students to learn about safe sex practices and their sexuality."

Currently, a committee made up of board members, teachers, administrators, and community members are combing through the textbooks. It's their job to make suggestions about what should be included in the curriculum, and then it will be up to the actual school board for a vote.

Superintendent Susan Bunting said that the district would stick to the normal curriculum protocol.

"The opinions expressed by board members," she said. "And others are a part of the process of determining appropriate health content for students."

Bunting emphasized that the final decision would be made by the board itself.

This is not the first time that national organizations have gotten involved in local debates in Sussex County. In July, many organizations including the NCAC made claims of censorship and homophobia after the Cape Henlopen School Board removed "The Miseducation of Cameron Post," from their summer reading list.

Then in October, another organization called the "Freedom From Religion Foundation" threatened legal consequences towards the Cape Henlopen High School, after the football coach allegedly participated in prayer before games.

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