Connecticut parents raised concerns about a recent assignment given to eighth-grade students using pizza as a metaphor for sexual likes and dislikes in a lesson on consent.
A PDF version of an assignment titled "Pizza and Consent" from Enfield Public Schools was reportedly shared with the organization Parents Defending Education by a parent.
"If you're a vegetarian, but your friend is a meat-lover, sharing a pizza is going to bring up a lot of issues. You don't know who you can share pizza with unless you ask!" reads the assignment. "The same goes with sex! You have to check in with your partner(s) and ask for their preferences."
The assignment includes a blank pizza with space to share pizza preferences "in relation to sex."
"Obviously, you might not be able to list all of your wants, desires and boundaries, but hopefully you'll start feeling more comfortable about discussing them," said the assignment.
"The reason we know about this story is that parents were very upset and felt like they were being ignored," said Erika Sanzi, director of outreach for Parents Defending Education. "These are eighth-graders … they're being asked very personal questions on a topic that many of them are totally inexperienced with, and likely uncomfortable talking about in school."
Brie Quartin, Enfield School District's Health and Physical Education coordinator, reportedly responded to a parent saying a version of the assignment uploaded to the eighth-grade curriculum page was an "incorrect version."
"The correct version of the assignment is for students to work in small groups to craft a pizza with toppings (no behaviors associated with said toppings) that would make everyone happy/comfortable using non-verbal communication only," said Quartin. "The parallel to be taught here is that when discussing pizza topping it is important that your preferences are clearly communicated to avoid any misunderstanding."
Sanzi said the assignment is indicative of "a major quality control problem, and also an ideology problem."
"You have sort of these two things that come together that now lead to a captive audience of children essentially having to listen to hypersexual content, and what some people actually feel like borders on grooming behavior," said Sanzi to The National Desk's Jan Jeffcoat. "A teacher could be highly skilled at discussing this. The problem is that what we're increasingly seeing is that people who are not at all skilled at this, now have this captive audience of young children."
When it comes to what's being taught in classrooms, Sanzi said federal law "guarantees that parents and the public can view and look at all instructional materials."
"My advice to parents is, make sure you know what's going on. And if a red flag is going off for you that something's not right, look further and dig deeper," said Sanzi.