The internet has been buzzing over the last few days after a high school teacher provided a handout to students as part of a health class.

The handout dealt with issues of sex and gender and many parents and school officials have expressed their displeasure over the piece.

KGVO reached out to Missoula County Public Schools Communications Director Tyler Christensen for a comment.

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“Missoula County Public Schools was recently made aware of a handout that was given to students in a high school health class,” began Christensen. “The handout was intended as a demonstration exercise to show how certain questions can be seen as offensive.”

Christensen emphasized the fact that the handout was not part of the school’s approved curriculum.

“Students were not expected to provide written answers,” she said. “The questions on the handout were intended for discussion purposes only and are not part of our approved curriculum. The handout was brought to the district's attention. There was an immediate investigation and the handout was removed.”

KGVO reached out to Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen and shared the MCPS statement with her. She clearly stated the state’s policy on sex education.

“In our state standard, which schools then implement with curricula at the local level, there is no mention of gender,” said Arntzen. “There is no mention of heterosexual or homosexual or sexual orientation at all. Montana recognizes, as does the federal government, that Montana recognizes male and female. We don't discuss anything else nor should schools discuss (anything else).”

Christensen wanted to assure the public, and especially MCPS students and parents that every effort will be made to keep this from happening again.

“MCPS has a challenge materials procedure that anyone can access,” she said. “Generally, the challenge materials procedure is used when there's a challenge of curriculum material use in our classrooms. However, the handout in this particular incident was not part of the curriculum and should not have been used, as it was not part of our approved instructional materials for this unit. The district has taken appropriate remedial action to prevent this from happening again.”

Superintendent Arntzen reacted to the MCPS statement.

“I believe in local control, so I applaud Missoula County Public Schools for putting out that release but I would hope that common sense would lead and not have a reaction after the fact,” she said.

MCPS Trustee Michael Gehl told KGVO News that he believes the school board must exercise more control over curricula.

“I think this is a very unfortunate incident,” said Gehl. “This is what happens when we have kind of lost control as far as a board and are not properly managing what's going on in the schools. “This is just kind of one of those things that happened because of that, and I'd like to think that we could kind of move things forward here and hopefully this incident won't happen again.”

Gehl added this comment about the entire incident.

“I look at this old adage that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, chances are it's a duck,” he said. Maybe I have an extremist view of it, but to me, this is ‘sorry, I got my hand caught in the cookie jar, and now I'm going to try to see if we can rewrite a little history and make sure that doesn't happen again’.”

The school election ballots will be arriving this week in the mail, and Gehl said he is running for reelection.

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