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Minnesota Sex Ed Teacher Takes Students To Smut Store

A sex ed teacher in Minneapolis caused an uproar after she took her class on a field trip to an adult novelty store without telling parents.

The Smitten Kitten bills itself as “a progressive sex toy store for everyone,” and “everyone” apparently includes middle school-aged students at Gaia Democratic School, an unconventional K-12 private school that operates out of a Unitarian Church. The small school only has a few dozen students.

According to Starri Hedges, Gaia’s director and sex ed teacher, students weren’t allowed to look at Smitten’s collection of pornography, but they were given access to sex toys, and some students even bought condoms.

Hedges defended the field trip as a valuable educational tool.

“What I saw happening on our trip, I thought it was beautiful because kids could talk to these sex educators without any shame, without any fear,” she said, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “You can’t say, ‘All kids should know this at this age.’ There are students that are already going through puberty at 10 or 11.”

However, some parents are furious, especially because they were given no notice of the trip in advance.

“I just struggled to think that I wasn’t involved in that [decision],” Lynn Floyd told the Star-Tribune. Floyd’s 11- and 13-year-old daughters were on the field trip. Following the incident, he has pulled his children from the school.

Hedges admitted it was “unfortunate” that she hadn’t communicated better with parents beforehand, and she said the controversy meant she likely wouldn’t try such a trip again, “which I feel bad [about] because the kids had so much fun.”

While parents may be upset about their lack of forewarning, the nature of Gaia Democratic suggests they should have expected some unconventional decision-making at the school.

“We believe in academic freedom, youth empowerment, democratic education, and environmental stewardship,” the school’s home page reads. Democratic education, to the school, means “an educational approach grounded in respect for human rights and a broad interpretation of learning… in which there is equality and democratic decision-making among young people and adults.”

The school’s official philosophy, explaining the school’s ‘Gaia’ name, is even more unusual:

At first it was ancient wisdom which stated that we are one with the universe, that everything is interconnected, that all is one.

Then later modern science caught up with this idea. Now quantum physicists say exactly the same thing – in a subatomic level everything is interconnected.

Everyone is talking about the same idea, only from different perspectives. We add one more – a visual perspective.

This symbol is presented like a metaphor of us and our earth. It is a big organism and we, people, are parts of this organism; we are not separate. And the earth is also just a part of an even bigger organism. Our earth is like a tree with roots that extend to the vast cosmos. Everything is interconnected.

The field trip may not merely have been ill-advised, but could also have broken local laws. Minneapolis law prohibits exposing minors to “sexually provocative written, photographic, printed, sound, or published materials deemed harmful to minors.”

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