Gooding Joint School District No. 231
Controversial Issues and Academic Freedom
The District shall offer courses of study which will afford learning experiences appropriate to the level of student understanding. The instructional program shall respect the right of student to face issues, to have free access to information, to study under teachers in situations free from prejudice, and to form, hold, and express their own opinions without personal prejudice or discrimination.
The Board recognizes the need for the teacher to have the freedom to discuss and teach subjects and issues which may be controversial. Such subjects and issues may include but not necessarily be limited to (1) politics, (2) science, (3) health and sex education, and (4) values and ethics.
Teachers shall guide discussions and procedures with thoroughness and objectivity to acquaint students with the need to recognize opposing viewpoints, importance of fact, value of good judgment, and the virtue of respect for conflicting opinions.
The Board encourages and supports the concept of academic freedom, recognizing it as a necessary condition to aid in maintaining an environment conducive to learning and the free exchange of ideas and information.
The Board also believes that academic freedom carries with it a responsibility that is shaped by the basic ideals, goals, and institutions of the local community. These standards are expressed via the goals and objectives of the adopted curriculum, by the adopted textbooks, by Board policy, and by the District’s mission statement.
In the study or discussion of controversial issues or materials, however, the Board directs the teaching staff to take into account the following criteria:
- relative maturity of students;
- District philosophy of education;
- community standards, morals, and values;
- the necessity for a balanced presentation; and
- the necessity to seek prior administrative counsel and guidance in such
As a consequence of its responsibility to guarantee academic freedom to both students and teachers, the Board expects that:
- All classroom studies will be curriculum-related, objective, and impartial;
- Teachers will create and maintain an atmosphere of open-mindedness and tolerance, and that no one idea or viewpoint should necessarily prevail;
- Teachers will not attempt, directly or indirectly, to limit or control students’ judgment concerning any issue, but will make certain that full and fair consideration is given to the subject and that facts are carefully examined as to their accuracy and interpretation;
- Teachers will exercise professional judgment in determining the appropriateness of the issue to the curriculum and to the age and grade level of the
To this end:
- Teachers shall be free to choose supplemental materials to support and enhance the regular classroom curriculum except in sex education instruction as outlined in item four of this To encourage the free flow of information and enhance student creativity, unplanned issues may be brought up in the classroom and briefly discussed.
- The District shall provide for parents or guardians to have their child excused from a topic which may be contrary to their religious or moral values. This shall be done in writing by the parent or guardian and include an explanation of the conflict. The student may also request to be excused if the student personally finds the topic to be contrary to their religious or moral The student must explain in writing as to the nature of the conflict. The teacher will provide an alternative assignment if the request is approved by the teacher and principal.
- Teachers shall notify parents or guardians when especially controversial issues may be discussed and that they may have their child excused if family religious or moral values so The teacher should have the principal view questionable materials, etc.
- In the case of all sex education instruction including such topics as development, birth control, sexual preference and sexually transmitted disease, the curriculum and all supplemental materials including outside speakers, visual, audio, and models shall be pre- approved by a standing committee selected each fall by the Board of Trustees with a minimum of four (4) parents, two (2) teachers, two (2) administrators/board members and two (2) patrons, representing a cross section of the community. These meetings will always be advertised and open to all Gooding parents. A list of all approved material will be maintained by the school District. This standing committee may also be used for other controversial
The Board of Trustees directs that a philosophy of abstinence shall be the guiding principle in all sex education instruction. It is recognized that abstinence is the only way to totally prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. The Board of Trustees allows for factual instruction in human sexuality including AIDS awareness and its lethal consequences, sexually transmitted diseases, abstinence, and facts concerning less effective means of birth control. In all cases the known facts will be taught, not the opinions or moral judgment of the instructor. This does not preclude giving impartial view points on both sides of the issues.
Abortion, masturbation, and homosexuality will be explained within the context that these are highly controversial issues. Any further discussion of these issues and the moral decisions regarding them should be held between the child and his/her parents and/or their Church or nurse/physician.
It is also the policy of the District to teach boys and girls separately in sex education topics of special sensitivity including physiology and anatomy through the eighth grade. Nurses, physicians and other approved guests may be used to teach these sensitive areas.
- When speakers are to be used, the principal must always give approval as outlined in the Board policy on “Controversial Speakers”.
Cross Reference 2345-2345P Controversial Speakers
Legal Reference: I.C. § 33-512 Governance of schools Policy History:
Adopted on: 5/8/12 Revised on: Reviewed on: 1/19/21