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2331 Controversial Issues/Guest Speakers

It is the policy of the Seattle School Board that the district offer courses of study which will afford learning experiences appropriate to the level of student understanding. The instructional program shall respect the right of students to face issues, to have free access to information, to study under teachers in situations free from prejudice and to form, hold, and express their own opinions without personal prejudice or discrimination. The district encourages staff members to provide for the free and orderly flow and examination of ideas so that students may gain the skills to gather and arrange facts, discriminate between facts and opinion, discuss differing viewpoints, analyze problems and draw their own tentative conclusions. 

Teachers shall guide discussions and procedures, including the use of guest speakers to gain divergent points of view, with thoroughness and objectivity to acquaint students with the need to recognize opposing viewpoints, the importance of fact, the value of judgment and the virtue of respect for conflicting opinions. Teachers will exercise professional judgment in determining the appropriateness of the issue to the curriculum and the maturity of the students. When in doubt regarding appropriateness, the matter should be referred to the principal.  Teachers will not relinquish classroom responsibilities to a guest speaker.  

The Superintendent or his/her designee shall establish procedures for the approval of the use of a guest speaker. When an invited speaker expresses opinions which are partisan or considered controversial by a large portion of the community, the school shall provide for the presentation of opposing views.  

  1. If the teacher and the principal believe the guest speaker’s topic is controversial, they will develop a plan whereby the issue(s) can be presented in an objective and unbiased manner.
  2. In the event the speaker’s topic is determined to be controversial, the teacher will notify students beforehand that any student who does not wish to attend the presentation may have an alternative assignment.