Wake County teacher told to discontinue diversity assignment that made some parents uncomfortable

Thursday, August 29, 2019
Diversity Inventory Survey
Diversity Inventory Survey

A Wake County English teacher's diversity assignment made some parents uncomfortable and prompted the district to tell the teacher to "discontinue the lesson immediately."

Dina Bartus said her 15-year-old and some of his Heritage High School classmates received the assignment.

According to Bartus, the group exercise instructed each student to acknowledge their differences like race, gender, religion, economic status and even their sexuality. Bartus was shocked.

"I go, 'wait a minute. She wanted you to write down, like, who you would want to have sex with?'" she said.

After learning about the task from her son, Bartus said she told the teacher she did not want him to participate.

"If a student is fine discussing these things with a teacher and the parents are fine with it, I have no problem with that. But we were not given that option," she said.

The next day, Bartus said her son came home with this a second diversity assignment.

The worksheet asked students to label the type of people they interact with in their lives.

And once again, the student would have to use labels and put those folks in a box.

"What is she doing with these papers?" Bartus asked.

Wake County Schools says the assignment was not part of the district's curriculum and Principal Lyons was not aware of the task until a parent complained. Lyons reviewed the lesson and discontinued it immediately.

A spokesperson sent the following statement to ABC11:

This week, a teacher conducted a classroom activity that included a worksheet titled Diversity Inventory. After learning of concerns from a parent, the principal reviewed the activity and resource and directed the teacher to discontinue the lesson immediately.
While we value efforts to build a classroom community that is inclusive and respectful of all students and backgrounds, the Wake County Public School System also respects and values student privacy and their right to engage in discussion about personal identity when they are comfortable to do so. The Diversity Inventory worksheet in question is not a district-provided resource. We will continue to work with educators on how to effectively lead important conversations connected to identity, culture, and other sensitive topics as appropriate.

We appreciate the parent bringing this concern to the school's attention. Parental involvement is crucial to student success. Students and parents should always speak with their teacher and principal about any assignment that they have questions about or that cause them concern.

There was a mixed reaction from parents.

"I'm for it. I think it's important for students to know that there are other social environments that they may not be used to," one father told ABC11.

"As a mom, I want my kids to know what makes us the same not things that make us different," said Carrie Bowden.

Bartus has removed her child from the class. She says she is waiting for the principal to address her personal concerns directly.