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Colorado Teacher Forced Students To Listen To Vulgar Poem, Write In Missing Words Such As ‘F***** In The A**,’ Report Says

A music literature teacher at Steamboat Springs High School in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, allegedly forced the students in his class to listen to him read aloud the sexually explicit and scatological words of the poem “Howl,” by the poet Allen Ginsburg, prompting parents’ complaints. The teacher also reputedly told the students to write-in words elided in the previously-approved textbook, including “f***ed in the a**” and “c***” and other lewd language.
According to attorney Jeremy Dys of First Liberty Institute, which fights to defend and restore religious liberty for all Americans, when some parents contacted the school about reconsidering the controversial materials, a committee affirmed their use, only suggesting that the “teacher notifies the building principal in advance and gains approval” in advance of the use of “controversial issues,” that a “teacher may be required to obtain permission from parents/guardians to teach controversial issues,” and that students be “provided alternative assignments when feasible at the request of a student or the student’s parents/guardians.”
Dys wrote a letter to the superintendent of the Steamboat Springs School District (SSSD), asserting, “SSSD’s actions here failed to honor that cooperative spirit of mutual respect between school and parent … In the age of #MeToo, it is difficult to conceive how the controversial materials taught in Mr. Ryan Ayala’s Music Literature class could be acceptable to you. We request your immediate action to ward against similar, unconstitutional encroachments in the future.”
Here’s the background to the story, as Dys delineated:
Skylar Cason, a sixteen-year-old Junior at Steamboat Springs High School, was a student in “Music Literature” class taught by Ryan Ayala. On the first day of school, Mr. Ayala told the class they would be studying “Howl,” but did not reveal its content, which includes, as Dys notes, “extensive cursing, sexually explicit descriptions, repeated vulgarities, prurient language, and a debased story line of the most offensive nature.” Dys notes, “Moreover, while the students were thus minimally informed, at no time did Mr. Ayala inform the parents/guardians of his minor charges of the controversial content of the materials he intended to present to their children, let alone offer alternative instruction for those who may object to such controversial materials.”
The SSSD Board of Education (SSSD Board) approved the use of “Howl,” but as Dys points out, “only in the form of a book with the most vile and vulgar terms of the poem pre- removed by the publisher.” Dys adds that despite the instructions, Ayala required the students to write-in “f***ed in the a**” and “c***” and other lewd language, ignoring the previously-approved textbook. Additionally, the students were forced to listen as Ayala read the poem aloud, a poem that includes, among other things, descriptions of sexual violence against women as well as vivid descriptions of erotic acts.
Dys writes, “Mr. Ayala paused for several minutes for the class to contemplate in a group discussion what the phrase, ‘granite c***’ may have symbolized in Ginsberg’s work.”
Dys writes:
Mr. Ayala assigned his students the task of listening to a list of songs, including “Psst, teenagers, take off you clo” by the artist, Car Seat Headrest. This, as well as the other songs assigned by Mr. Ayala, were said to relate to the poem, “Howl.” The highly repetitive song appears to glorify the idea of “sexting” and routinely requests a “teenager”—and thus presumptively including someone under the age of consent—to remove his or her clothing and send nude pictures to the singer who appears sexually aroused by the effort of the teenager. Worse, the song appears to suggest that the singer has control over his subject in much the same way Harvey Weinstein and others controlled women through the use of sexual favors. The lyrics include, “Send me a letter, send me your glow/I got it bad now, I want your clothes/ Send me a picture, send me your glow/I got your soul now, I got your clothes.”
Dys notes, “Skylar specifically recalls feeling violated, as if her skin were crawling … It pained her to be compelled to not only hear the words, but then pen the vulgarity letter-by-letter in her text.” After the “granite c***” reference, Dys writes, “This overwhelmed Skylar with feelings of guilt and shame, as if her teacher had forcibly dredged out of her something precious and innocent that was never meant to be removed in the bright light of a high school classroom.”

Dys concludes, “Mr. Ayala and SSSD are welcome to teach on as many controversial issues as the SSSD Board deems appropriate and the citizens of Steamboat Springs will tolerate. However, neither Mr. Ayala, nor SSSD should be authorized to expose its students to controversial materials without parental notice, parental permission, and the provision of an alternative assignment … Moreover, SSSD has a responsibility under federal law, and according to its own policies, to ‘review the selection and objection rules with staff periodically’ and remind its staff ‘that the right to object to materials is one granted by federal law.’”

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