A high school science teacher in Idaho is under investigation by the state’s professional standards commission because he reportedly used the word "vagina" during a biology lesson.
Tim McDaniel, who teaches 10th grade science at Dietrich School, told the Twin Falls Times-News that four parents were upset when they learned that his lesson included the word "vagina" and information about the biology behind female orgasm.
"I teach straight out of the textbook, I don’t include anything that the textbook doesn’t mention," McDaniel remarked. “But I give every student the option not attend this class when I teach on the reproductive system if they don’t feel comfortable with the material.”
McDaniel said that he had never before received a complaint in the 18 years that he had taught science class at Dietrich School.
According to students who have set up a Facebook page to “SAVE THE SCIENCE TEACHER!!” certain parents may have had a political agenda in going after McDaniel. Sixty-six percent of church goers in Lincoln County, where Dietrich is located, are affiliated with the Mormon LDS Church, according to 2002 Glenmary Research Center data.
"[T]here are a couple people in the community that are trying to get Mr. McDaniel fired for teaching the reproductive system, climate change, and several other science subjects," students wrote. "All these subjects were taught from the book and in good taste. He cares for each of his students and goes the extra mile to help them all. Now is the time for us to help by supporting him!"
McDaniel acknowledged that he may have angered some parents by showing the film "An Inconvenient Truth" during a lesson about climate change.
He explained to the Times-News that students were asked to write a paper on their thoughts about climate change after seeing the film.
“I’m not looking for one answer, I just want them to be able to explain what they believe,” McDaniel said.
"This sort of thing makes you worry about what you teach," he added. “That’s not right.”
Dietrich Superintendent Neil Hollingshead speculated that McDaniel would not be fired as a result of the investigation.
“It is highly unlikely it would end with his dismissal,” the superintendent mused. “Maybe a letter of reprimand from the school board.”
But McDaniel pointed out that even a letter of reprimand would be unfair.
“I’ve done nothing wrong,” he insisted. “I told them I won’t sign it.”