CT middle school's “Pizza and Consent” assignment outraged parents, now called "a mistake"

(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Eighth-grade students at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Enfield, Connecticut were given an assignment that combined a popular food item and sex acts. After the school received exactly the kind of response that would be expected, it now says the assignment was “a mistake.” Ya think?

An assignment appeared on the Enfield School District website that brought complaints of inappropriate behavior from parents. The eighth-graders were instructed to list their favorite pizza toppings and use those as a metaphor for their favorite sexual acts. Eighth graders are usually 13 and 14 years old. They aren’t so young that sex isn’t of interest to most of them but since when is that any business of their teachers? These young teens were asked about their favorite sexual acts. We had sex education back in my school days, in a private Catholic high school, a long time ago. But I can assure you that the instructor did not ask us personal questions about preferences or even assume that any of us were sexually active. This school assignment assumes that the students are sexually active at the ages of thirteen and fourteen.

Before you think that maybe the teachers were asking about kissing or something relatively innocent, don’t. For example, olives were suggested as a metaphor for oral sex. Kids that don’t like pizza or sex were told to just draw something else for the assignment.

‘We can use pizza as a metaphor for sex,’ the assignment says, explaining: ‘When you order pizza with your friends, everyone checks in about each other’s preferences, right?… The same goes with sex.’

It then provides the children with a section to list their favorite pizza toppings and their favorite sex acts, saying: ‘Here are some examples: Likes: Cheese = kissing, dislikes: Olives = Giving oral.’

Once the metaphor was complete, the eighth-graders were also asked to ‘draw and color your favorite type of pizza. What’s your favorite style of pizza? Your favorite toppings? What are your pizza no-nos? Now mirror these preferences in relation to sex.’

And ‘for those of y’all who don’t like pizza or sex at all, feel free to draw out another food favorite, or include non-sexual activities.’

Perhaps they could draw eggplant emojis or something else besides pizza. You don’t have to be prudish to understand that this is way out of bounds for classroom instruction. Obviously the consent part of the assignment was meant to lead into a discussion of personal boundaries and interacting with those of the opposite sex. The assignment, though, asks them to list favorite and least favorite sex acts. There is no getting away from that inappropriateness. Ordering a personal pizza was likened to giving consent.

“When you order pizza with your friends, everyone checks in about each other’s preferences, right? Some people might be vegan, some might be gluten-free. Others might love pineapple, while others prefer pepperoni,” it said.

“Some might not like pizza at all. If you’re a vegetarian, 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 a pizza with unless you ask!” it continued.

A group called Parents Defending Education exposed the assignment. Enfield Public Schools Superintendent Christopher Drezek said during a school board meeting the next day that the assignment was sent “inadvertently” to eighth-graders, and said it was a “mistake.”

“The simple truth was it was a mistake. And I know that there are some who may not believe that. I know there are some who don’t necessarily maybe want that answer,” Drezek said. “In this particular case, I didn’t even get a chance to because the person who made the mistake jumped ahead of it before I was even notified that it had happened.”

He said that the content in the assignment was “inappropriate,” and said that there’s no “hidden agenda.”

On Parents Defending Education’s website, there is a more detailed explanation from the school district’s Health and Physical Education Coordinator.

Brie Quartin, the district’s Health and Physical Education Coordinator, offered this explanation and apology in an email to at least one parent who raised concerns:

The incorrect version, as opposed to the revised version of this assignment was mistakenly posted on our grade 8 curriculum page, and was inadvertently used for instruction to grade 8 Health classes. I caught the error after our curriculum revision in June, but failed to post the intended version. I own that, and apologize for the error. 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. Students are then asked to reflect and discuss how thoughts or feelings can be confusing or miscontrued [sic], if we rely on non-verbal cues/communication alone. 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. This discussion then leads into how students can identify when consent it either present or not.

That explanation makes a little more sense and brings out that the lesson is one about consent and specifically about bringing sex into it. One parent questions how sexual preferences are asked about by accident. “I’m not sure how a teacher accidentally asks for the personal sexual preferences of 8th graders without any indication it is completely inappropriate to do such a thing?” She’s right to ask that. It was no accident, just sloppiness on the part of an administrator to revise the lesson on the website. Parents weren’t allowed to attend the school board meeting so they posted their opinions on YouTube.

The Health and Physical Education Coordinator brings up the fact that some people may not believe her explanation. That is to be expected, given how teachers have lost the respect from so many parents over the lies they have told about curriculum, specifically the teaching of Critical Race Theory. Even the person who put it on the website knew it was wrong, or at least now claims that. The point is that the revision was not made and teachers went forward with the assignment without asking questions about appropriateness.

The premature sexualization of our children has not been a good thing. Kids need to be kids as long as possible and develop at their own pace. There was no need to bring sexual behavior into a lesson on understanding consent and interactions with others.