Idaho Teacher Being Investigated For Using the Word “Vagina” in Biology Class

sex education

Complaints by scandalized Dietrich parents include: using the word “vagina,” and teaching different forms of birth control during a class on the reproductive system.

Tim McDaniel, a science teacher in Dietrich, Idaho, is being investigated by the Idaho Professional Standards Commission after several parents filed a complaint objecting to the way McDaniel taught the reproductive system in his 10th grade biology class. According to the Times-News,

The state investigation includes allegations that McDaniel taught sex education material in his science class, taught forms of birth control, shared confidential student files with an individual other than their parents, told inappropriate jokes and showed a video clip in class that showed a genital herpes infection.

He [McDaniel] said that the 10th grade science class includes information on birth control and sexually transmitted diseases because the school’s health teacher declines to teach the material.

“Since I started working here about 17 years ago, I agreed to teach about the reproduction system because I was comfortable with it and he wasn’t,” McDaniel said. “This is the first time someone has objected to the material … I teach straight out of the textbook, I don’t include anything that the textbook doesn’t mention. 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.”

Apparently the commission is also investigating a complaint that McDaniel is “using school property to promote a political candidate.” This complaint stems from his use of the video “An Inconvenient Truth” in his science class to teach about climate change. McDaniel said that after they watch the film, the students are asked to write a short paper explaining what they learned from the movie and their thoughts on climate change.

Kate Norman, one of the parents who brought the complaint before the school board said, “As a parent, I want to be notified in advance that this content is going to be taught in class.” And although McDaniel does not feel he has done anything wrong, he has said that next year he will be sure to give parents plenty of information on all material to be taught in his class.

Dietrich Superintendent Neil Hollingshead told the Times-News that although there is an on-going investigation, McDaniel has not been suspended. He said, “It is highly unlikely it would end with his dismissal. Maybe a letter of reprimand from the school board.” But McDaniel has said that he will refuse to sign if the school board sends a letter of reprimand. He said, “It’s important to teach this to kids. Hopefully, the students are being abstinent but most of these students will be getting married a year or two after graduation and they need to know about this.”

Photo: AP/File

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About Kathryn DeHoyos

Kathryn DeHoyos currently resides on the outskirts of Austin, TX. She has 2 beautiful children, and is very happily un-married to her life partner DJ.


  1. Wait, what? Frankly, I think this is irresponsible; 10th grade is way to late to teach human reproduction and birth control. They idea that parents need to know before basic stuff like this is presented to kids is laughable. We’re not talking 10 year olds here.

    And the idea that it’s wrong for kids to learn the proper names for their own body parts? Grrr.

  2. Would the term “Ba-jingo” be better here?

    (Elliot’s word for the dreaded “vagina” when she gets confronted by Kelso in “Scrubs”)

  3. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    Gosh, though, I hope he didn’t mean “vulva.” The promiscuous use of the word vagina for anything “down there” is really irritating. Viz: “Vagina” Monologues. It completely disempowers the pleasure parts of the vulva.

  4. wellokaythen says:

    If you can’t even mention the word vagina, lots of luck teaching young Idahoans about the clitoris.

  5. wellokaythen says:

    He warned them ahead of time.
    He made that part of the class optional.
    He followed the textbook chosen by the school/district and used all the words found therein.
    He followed the pre-approved syllabus and class description.

    Perhaps he could have given more and better warning to parents. Maybe he was too cavalier in his language during the class and used jokes that some might be offended by. Those are all valid issues. I can’t help noticing in the article that he’s been teaching this stuff for 17 years at the same school, so it’s not like he sprung this on everyone.

    Just talking about birth control in a class about human reproduction does not mean he’s encouraging students to use birth control. It makes good sense when talking about reproduction to talk about things that increase or decrease fertility, whatever the morality people assign to those things. Birth control exists and it has effects on human reproduction, which is the subject to be covered.

    I’m sure if he taught anatomy and physiology he would talk about what happens when a bone heals or what happens when you catch a cold. That doesn’t mean he’s teaching students to run out and break their arms or lick doorknobs. Description is not the same as recommendation.

    Besides the question of sex ed in K12, this is also a question of academic freedom. I admit when it comes to academic freedom I’m a zealot.

  6. Perhaps the text of the linked article has changed, but the word “vagina” doesn’t even appear in it. I have no idea whether this teacher did anything inappropriate or not – hopefully the investigation will figure that out – but whatever they’re looking into, it sure doesn’t sound like it’s “for using the word ‘vagina’ in a biology class”.

  7. I’m sorry, but this is simply ridiculous. The teacher more than covered his bases if he gave an ultimatum stating that students did not have to come to class if they were not willing to learn the information, which I think is perfectly legitimate. Our high school sex ed program consisted of the same thing, and honestly, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the word vagina comes up in the class. What word would you use instead? Fun bits? Lady parts? Why is it wrong to use correct terminology? The only thing I think stands for argument is forms of birth control (which I personally believe should be taught in the schools, but some people don’t), and even then the ground is pretty shaky. Just because you pretend that students are abstinent and don’t have sex doesn’t mean that they don’t. And if abstinence is the only thing taught, then if one of the students would happen to engage in sex and didn’t know what forms of birth control are out there, there is a much, much, MUCH higher risk of pregnancy than if they knew what was out there. Students should have the choice to know the options; it doesn’t mean they have to use them if they go against their religion or whatever, but they should at least know what options they have in case they are in a circumstance where sex may occur.
    In reference to his so-called political campaigning by using An Inconvenient Truth, we had to watch that movie in 8th grade at our school, and honestly the only information in that video that stuck with me were the facts and figures on global warming. I rewatched the video last year in college for one of my classes and was a little surprised that there was background information on Al Gore, because that’s not the kind of information that I remembered at all. It’s not a political video just because it talks about Al Gore; it’s a documentary whose main goal is to show effects of global warming, and simply asking students to reflect on the video is in no way promoting them to be liberally-based or support Al Gore or anything (especially since he’s pretty much dropped off the face of the Earth since the election, as far as I can tell). You don’t have to be associated with either, or any political party to feel as though something should change to help our environment and better our world, and furthermore, people in schools are going to be the leaders of tomorrow, and if we as a nation can get through to the students and let them know what we can do to change the planet, then why not? It’s a lot harder to change the minds of adults once they are set in their ways, but kids, even teenagers, are still malleable, and if they realize that something is wrong and something can be fixed, they’re a lot more likely to do it than adults are.
    It’s pretty sad that he’s been teaching the same material for 17 years and just got complaints recently. Either someone is overreacting, or someone is overreacting. And I sure hope the poor guy doesn’t lose his job for peoples ignorance.

    • wellokaythen says:

      “What word would you use instead? Fun bits? Lady parts? Why is it wrong to use correct terminology?”

      I think he was suppsoed to say “hoo-hoo.”

      Just wait until the drama club does “The Vagina Monologues”….

  8. April fools!!! Right? Right? Please say April Fools!

  9. Is this in a bible belt area? We learned what a vagina was in like 4th grade here in Australia…

  10. By the time their little snowflakes were 12, they’ve probably seen enough pornography where they know every word possible for female body parts. So yeah, lets teach them that using the word “vagina” is terrible while they continue to get their education about sex from pornographers and pornstars. Come on parents, wake up.


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