KEY POINTS

  • New York City's Dalton School received complaints about first-graders being taught lessons that included masturbation
  • School administrators told parents they "misinterpreted" the curriculum of teacher Justine Ang Fonte
  • Parents are criticizing the lessons anonymously out of fear of retaliation

A private school in Manhattan, New York, has received complaints from parents after it was revealed that first-graders were being taught sex education lessons that included masturbation.

School administrators of the $55,000-per-year Dalton School told parents that they had "misinterpreted" the curriculum of teacher Justine Ang Fonte, the New York Post first reported. 

A video, titled "Help kids learn that bodies are private," of a cartoon Fonte used in one of her sex education classes for 6-year-olds featured little kids and an adult discussing erections and masturbation. 

"Hey, how come sometimes my penis gets big sometimes and points in the air?" asked a little boy in the cartoon.

After an adult woman explained it was an "erection," he then responded, "Sometimes I touch my penis because it feels good."

A little girl then joined the discussion, saying, "Sometimes, when I’m in my bath or when Mom puts me to bed, I like to touch my vulva too."

The school has reportedly removed the video from the curriculum.

Fonte reassured parents that she does not use the word "masturbation" in class, according to the report. She claimed that her lessons teach kids not to touch themselves in public. 

Children were also taught about "consent," which one unnamed mother told the New York Post was valuable in protecting kids from abuse, but another anonymous mom said it was extreme for kids to tell their own parents or grandparents to not touch them without first asking for permission. The parents spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation.

Fonte also discussed concepts like gender assigned at birth, gender identity and gender expression during the classes.

"This person should absolutely not be teaching children. Ironically, she teaches kids about ‘consent’ yet she has never gotten consent from parents about the sexually explicit, and age inappropriate material about transgender to first graders," a third mother said.

"I’m not against all sex education but it’s not cool to keep parents in the dark about it," another parent said.

"We are furious," another mother told the outlet. "We were horrified to learn this was shown to our first-grade 6- and 7-year old kids without our knowledge or consent. But it’s so hard to fight back because you’ll get canceled and your child will suffer."

The revelation comes a week after the New York Post reported that Fonte had taught "pornography literacy" classes this month to 120 boys and girls at the Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School.

A Dalton spokesperson was quoted by the Post as saying, "As part of Dalton’s comprehensive Health curriculum for students, a lesson on Gender & Bodies included two evidence-based and age-appropriate videos approved for students 4 years and older. These videos align with nationally recognized methodologies and standards."

"We consistently review our Health curriculum, making sure that the content is developmentally appropriate and, if necessary, we adapt our curriculum accordingly," the spokesperson continued. "We will continue to listen carefully to parent feedback, respond thoughtfully to community concerns, and develop lessons that are in the best interest of our students, respect our community’s values, and correspond with best practices."

classroom-488375_1920 A representational photo of students. Photo: Pixabay