Parents are outraged after a teacher took their children to an adult toy store as a class field trip.
Starri Hedges, who teaches at Gaia Democratic School, a private school in Minneapolis, said she wanted the students to learn about human sexual behavior in a “welcoming environment.”
That welcoming environment for her middle school- and high school-aged students was a place called Smitten Kitten.
“What I saw happening on our trip, I thought it was beautiful because kids could talk to these sex educators without any shame, without any fear,” she said Monday.
But not everyone sees it that way.
“It’s just a major breach of trust,” said Lynn Floyd, whose 11- and 13-year-old daughters went on the trip, according to the Star Tribune.
While at Smitten Kitten, students sat in the front in a library section of the store, Hedges said. Everything deemed pornographic was off limits to the students, though sex toys and other products were visible, Hedges said.
The field trip offered students access to educators and products that could be used to practice safer sex, Hedges said. Some students bought condoms, she said.
Smitten Kitten, which bills itself as “a progressive sex toy store for everyone,” sells a range of toys and leather products as well as books and DVDs. The store also offers workshops, like the kind the students participated in.
“The sexual health aspect, there is no right age for all kids,” Hedges said. “You can’t say, ‘All kids should know this at this age.’ There are students that are already going through puberty at 10 or 11.”
Floyd learned about the visit after the girls told their mother. Floyd and his former wife immediately pulled the two girls out of school, along with their youngest daughter, 9.
Floyd said he is most troubled that parents were never notified before the trip. “I just struggled to think that I wasn’t involved in that,” he said.
Hedges said that she “unfortunately didn’t communicate well enough with parents ahead of time” about the trip.
She contacted Smitten Kitten staff last Wednesday to arrange the visit to the store. Only students who regularly attended the sex education classes throughout the year were allowed to attend, Hedges said.
It is not clear whether the field trip broke any laws.
Store owner Jennifer Pritchett told the Tribune in an email Monday that her store is “an educational resource about sex and sexuality” and, “We leave it up to the discretion of parents and guardians as to when, if, and in what capacity they seek resources from our educators.”
As for Hedges, she said she is disappointed that this will likely be the school’s last field trip to the store because “the kids had so much fun.”
I bet they did.
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