A middle school teacher in Florida is out of a job after assigning her students a controversial questionnaire that officials determined to be inappropriate.
Daryl Cox, who taught at Fox Chapel Middle School in Spring Hill, Florida, handed out the assignment to students in her "Leader In Me" class, which is about learning to overcome differences and accept other people.
The questionnaire instructed students to rate how comfortable they would be in a variety of situations. A number of the situations dealt with issues of race, religion and sexual orientation. Among them:
"A group of young black men are walking toward you on the street."
"Your new roommate is Palestinian and Muslim."
"A friend invites you to go to a gay bar."
In a statement, the Hernando County School District stressed that "in no way does that assignment meet the standards of appropriate instructional material."
"After being made aware of the assignment, school administration began an investigation and has taken immediate disciplinary action," the statement read. "This teacher was within her probationary period and has been released from employment."
The assignment provoked outrage from parents and students alike.
"How comfy are you if you see a group of black men walking to you on the street? That's completely inappropriate," Jennifer Block, whose daughter was in Cox's class, told WPTV. "In no world, whatsoever, is that OK to question a child on."
Block said she agrees with the school's decision to fire Cox.
"I think that it was probably best," she said.
Sixth-grader Tori Drews described the assignment as "intolerable."
"I thought it was very inappropriate," she said. "I thought some of them were racist. I thought some of them were sexist. I thought it was completely intolerable."
Drews said Cox appeared to have second thoughts shortly after giving out the assignment.
"There were children that were saying this is wrong. 'Why are we doing this?' 'Does this have a reason?' She was going, 'Yeah this is kind of wrong, maybe I should take it back,'" Drews recalled. "Kids were asking if they could share it with their parents. She was like, 'No. Don't show your mom. Don't take that home. I'm taking it back up.'"
The questionnaire was taken from a book called "Exploring White Privilege" by philosophy professor Robert Amico, WTSP reports.
Asked about the questionnaire, Amico issued a statement:
There is a survey in the appendix of my book titled "How Comfortable Am I?" under "Self-Assessment Exercises" that offers readers an opportunity to assess their comfort levels in a variety of possible situations that cover a range of issues, including race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability, religion, and so forth. The results can direct readers to areas worth further exploration for personal growth. I hope this helps.