Sunday, March 9, 2008

JagWire: The Oral Sex issue

Actually, the official title of this issue is 8.5, our fifth issue this year. This is the promised issue, the one in which we tackled oral sex as one important to our student body. Our focus reporters did a superb job of considering the health, moral and educational issues around this activity, and questioned why further education around this has not made its way into the health curriculum. Two aspects of the focus have caused trouble for us: 1) the provocative photo on the front page. It's not obscene, but suggestive. 2) the use of student names by quotations about their participation, or lack of participation in oral sex.

We were advised by my predecessor about the sensitive aspects of the focus, particularly the use of names rather than giving anonymity to the students quoted. He strongly advised against the use of granting anonymity. This view was later endorsed by Kathleen Merryman, the News Tribune columnist who gave our focus favorable coverage last Wednesday.

There has been a bi-polar response to the focus. We have more or less won the public relations fight from those outside the Puyallup School District/ER community. The original article, and subsequent Merryman column have both painted a positive picture of what we tried to do. The inside the community reaction has gone less well. My principal was bombarded by parent, community, and district outrage. We met with him for some ninety minutes on the 4th to discuss his concerns about the focus-largely limited to the front page, and the use of student names. He raised a concern about district adoption of prior approval rules and a limitation on student expression.

With Brian, our principal gone on a recruiting trip the Thursday and Friday of last week, we're not quite sure where we stand. However, with the WJEA state convention coming up on the 15th, I'm reasonably sure we'll all have plenty to talk about.

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