IMB-Teaching About Controversial Issues and Using Controversial Materials

IMB-Teaching About Controversial Issues and Using Controversial Materials

Controversial issues are defined as those problems, subjects or questions about which there are significant differences of opinion and discussion of which generally creates strong feelings among people. Although there may be disagreement over what the facts are and what they mean, subjects usually become controversial issues because of differences in interpretraton or the values people use in applying the facts. 

Controversial materials are defined as learning resources which are not part of the district's approved learning resources and which are subject to disagreement as to appropriateness because they refer or relate to a controversial issue or present material in a manner which is itself controversrial. Examples of such materials include, but are not limited to, those that depict explicit sexual conduct, graphic violence, profanity, drug use, or other socially undesirable behaviors, or materials that are likely to divide the community along racial, ethnic or religious lines. 

Films and/or videos rated R, PG-13, or PG shall be considered controversial in accordance with this policy. X rated and NC-17 rated films and videos shall not be used in district schools. PG, PG-13, and R rated films and videos shall be considered controversial at the elementary school level. PG-13 and R rated films and videos shall be considered controversial at the middle school level. R rated films and videos shall be considered controversial at the high school level. 

Teachers may use controversial learning materials and discuss controversial issues if they contribute to the attainment of course objectives directly related to Board-adopted academic standards. The educational purpose of teaching about controversial issues or using controversial materials must be student achievement in academic standards rather than reaching conclusions about the validity of a specific point of view.

In teaching about controversial issues, teachers shall work cooperateively with the building principal. Teachers shall obtain approval from the building principal prior to the use of any controversial materials. If a teacher has a question regarding whether an issue or resource is controversial within the meaning of this policy, the teacher shall contact the principal. The principal may instruct the teacher to notify students' parents/guardians and obtain parents/guardians' permission prior to discussing a controversial issue or using controversial materials. Teachers shall inform the principal of controversial issues that arise unexpectedly which cause or are likely to cause concern for students and/or their parents/guardians. 

When controversial issues or controversial materials are used as part of the instructional program, alternative learning activiteis shall be provided when feasible at the request of a student or the student's parents/guardians. 


Adopted: June 11, 2008
Revised: October 28, 2015

CROSS REFS.: IJ, Instructional Resources and Materials KEC, Public Concerns/Complaints about Instructional Resources KEF*, Public Concerns/Complaints about Teaching Methods, Activities or Presentations