In discussing controversial issues, the teacher will encourage students to examine information and data which is available concerning the subject and to express their own views, assuring that it be done in a manner that gives due respect to one another's rights and opinions.
When discussing controversial issues, the teacher will respect positions other than his/her own.
Students will be encouraged, after class discussions and independent inquiry, to reach their own conclusions regarding controversial issues.
Abortion, capital punishment, evolution versus creationism, and homosexuality are but a few examples of controversial issues. An appropriate setting for a discussion or written activity dealing with a topic like abortion or homosexuality would be in a contemporary problems class, health, home and family life course, courses where sex education or AIDS curriculum are taught, or literature or journalism classes. In this context, professional judgment must be made in determining the appropriateness of the issue to the curriculum and the maturity of the students.
Students should be provided opportunities to learn about all sides of an issue. Teachers should refrain from promoting their biases in order for students to be able to make independent judgments on the issue.
The following procedures will be in effect when guest speakers are being considered for use in the classroom:
When a teacher believes that a guest speaker will contribute to the curriculum by helping to achieve the goals and objectives of the course, the staff member will follow the procedure set out below.
1. At least two weeks before the date the speaker is to visit, the teacher will notify the principal in writing regarding whom he/she wants to invite, how the speaker's topic will relate to the curriculum and when the speaker will visit.
Any teacher may request a waiver of the two-week notice period and any principal may grant such a waiver in order to accommodate the scheduling of a speaker on short notice.
However, such a waiver shall be at the sole discretion of the principal and the previous granting of such waivers shall not obligate any principal to grant a waiver for any future request.
2. If the teacher and/or the principal believe the guest speaker's topic is controversial, the teacher shall request an outline of the speaker's presentation for review in advance for approval. Once the speaker's outline is approved, he/she shall be expected to follow it. Any substantial deviation from the outline could result in the termination of the presentation as determined by the building principal. (See Policy 2331 - Controversial Issues.)
3. In the event the speaker's topic is determined to be controversial, the teacher will notify students (and parents of elementary and middle school students) beforehand that any student who wishes not to attend the presentation will have an alternate assignment.
4. Unless the principal approves otherwise, the teacher will not allow non-class members to hear the speaker.
5. The guest speaker will be registered in the office by the teacher on the day he/she speaks.
6. If the principal has reason to believe that the appearance of the guest speaker would not contribute to the curriculum or would be harmful to the students, he/she may deny the appearance of the guest speaker.
Highline School District 401
Adopted by the Board: August 1984
Revised by the Board: 01.92, 06.93