As a parent, you have to accept that some things are out of your control when you send your children to school. However, parents are understandable livid after learning that one New York City school showed fifth grade students an anti-abortion video, according to PIX11. While sex education is an important part of public education, politicized messages about sex, pregnancy, and reproductive rights are not, and should not, be part of the conversation, especially with young children.
The students were shown the video during a dance class at Public School 184, also known as the Shaung Wen School in Manhattan, according to the New York Daily News. The students were shown the controversial video by arts teacher Ju Ling Wei, who's been a teacher since 2006 and "has no prior disciplinary history," the school told Romper in a statement.
Parents who spoke with the New York Daily News said the students who watched the video, which is also posted on YouTube, saw adolescents acting out an unborn fetus' thoughts about abortion. According to PIX11, Wei then held "a Q&A session" about the video and reportedly asked students what they had learned.
Isabella Alvarado, an 11-year-old student at PS 184, told PIX11 she felt "confused and uncomfortable" by the video. Isabella's father, Ishmael Alvarado, told the New York Daily News, "She said to me, 'What's abortion?' My kids still believe in Santa Claus. They're still innocent."
Other parents echoed similar disbelief while speaking with CBS New York. Parent Chrysti Ramirez told CBS New York, "I feel that should be taught at home. I want to be the one to explain the birds and the bees to her," while Milly Velez told the news outlet, "I think it’s totally inappropriate these are young children."
The anti-abortion video is close to five minutes long — titled "2018 National Fine Arts Merit Winner - Readers Theater - Life Flight" on YouTube — and shows adolescents acting out a fetus saying various things, such as, "Guess what mom, my heart started beating. I'm alive," and "Mommy, what's going on? It burns, mommy, it burns. It's hurting me."
PS 184 told Romper in a statement that Wei "sought to use the video as a way to demonstrate stage presence and performance," adding that "teachers must use age-appropriate lessons and find appropriate ways of introducing each topic in class."
The school's principal Iris Chiu told Wei "not to use this video again, sent a letter home to parents and made a guidance counselor available to support students." Chiu has also since met with the PTA executive board, the school said in the statement to Romper.
New York City Education Department Spokesman Doug Cohen told Romper in a statement:
We expect our teachers to practice good judgment, and there is absolutely no reason to show this video in an elementary school. This lesson was completely inappropriate, and the principal immediately addressed this incident and reported it for investigation.
The shock and outrage over the video shown to PS 184's fifth grade dance class is warranted, with many parents on Twitter sharing similar reactions. "Yo this teacher would have to hide from me if she showed this to my kid WOW," author Jessica Valenti wrote.
As many of the parents have voiced, subjecting children to potentially traumatizing, politically-fueled messages is highly inappropriate and should not be happening in school.