- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 27, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The Lincoln Board of Education has updated its policy on handling controversial issues, saying that the purpose of having conversations on such topics is to develop critical thinkers.

The portion of the policy that says teachers will notify parents in advance so they can opt out of topics they find distasteful was essentially unaltered, except to specify that such notice be made with ample time to arrange alternative activities, the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1rzrsaf ) reports.

The amended policy also clarifies that teachers can continue with a conversation about a controversial topic without notifying parents if it spontaneously comes up during class discussion.

Lee Todd said he wanted the policy to be altered to include all sex education topics. He is a critic of the way the district handled a months-long controversy last year started by Irving Middle School’s teacher training materials on gender identity.

“Being the arbiters of a child’s education, the parents need to be empowered,” he said. “If we have a parent notification policy that doesn’t allow a parent to review the items in advance they can’t be arbiters.”

A school board committee discussed Todd’s suggestions. They ultimately rejected the ideas, saying they were unworkable both philosophically and logistically.

District officials have said that the policy’s intent has a broader scope than simply telling parents about topics they might find objectionable and that the policy’s changes attempt to clarify that.

Retired pastor Steven Griffith told the school board that he supported the changes. He said the policy allows students to understand different viewpoints while giving parents a chance to choose alternative activities if they object.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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