Teaching of Controversial Issues
The ability to deal reasonably with different points of view
is essential to intelligent participation in a free and open
In a public school system in a democratic society, academic
freedom includes the freedom of the teacher to present controversial
issues and to make avail¬able to the students a wide range
of instructional materials and community resources. Professional
judgment must be made in determining the appropriateness of
the issue to the curriculum and the maturity of the students.
Academic freedom in the instructional program also implies
responsibilities. The teacher should seek to promote intelligent
study based upon a broad range of ideas to be discovered and
developed through reading, listening, viewing and discussion.
Recognizing that resources used in the classroom often will
reflect a particular point of view, the teacher should strive
by the use of additional resources to present a fair balance
of ideas so that the students have full opportunity to investigate
and consider various positions and to draw intelligent conclusions.
Academic freedom extends to students as well as teachers.
Students must be free to pursue independent study and to make
use of resources beyond those in the classroom. Moreover,
if a student or parent has deep-seated moral, personal, or
religious beliefs which make an item in the instructional
program objectionable the student must be permitted to pursue
an alternative program in accordance with established procedures.
The public school is a unique community institution charged
with the task of guiding each new generation to responsible
maturity. Young people must have the opportunity to develop
their powers of discovery, perception, understanding, and
judgment, assisted and encouraged by teachers and administrators
committed to the principle that these powers are best nurtured
by free and open inquiry.
In the presentation of all controversial issues, every effort
will be made to consider divergent points of view, and provide
opportunity for exploration by the students into all sides
of the issue.
ADOPTED: 17 March 1983