Justine Ang Fonte made headlines in June when she taught a controversial sex education class to six year old students at the Dalton School, a 1919-founded progressive school in New York.
The teacher showed the class a cartoon video whose characters were talking about naming their body parts, specifically their body parts by using its proper names. At some point in the video, the "teacher" figure explained that "It's okay to touch yourself and see how different body parts feel, but it's best to only do it in private."
This, among the other sex education lessons in the video shown to first graders at New York's Dalton School by Fonte was met with intense backlash from parents.
According to the New York Post, Fonte resigned following the backlash. But this was not the first time she started controversy by teaching sex education to very young children. Forte had once taught a one-day workshop on what she called "porn literacy" to junior students at Columbia Grammar & Prep School on May 3, which angered parents as well.
Following the controversy, Dalton's head of school, Jim Best, announced in June that "Throughout her tenure at Dalton, Justine Ang Fonte has helped to develop an exemplary K-12 Health and Wellness program. Dalton - our faculty, staff, administration, and trustees - continue to stand firmly behind this program and those who teach it."
However, Fonte decided to leave the school because she felt like she was not given enough support by Dalton, to the point that she felt she was not safe. According to Faithwire, Fonte lamented that "At least one person at the school trusted that I could [teach the lessons] and I did. But they weren't ready to back it up, and it cost me my safety."
After Fonte's departure from a school in which parents pay $55,000 a year for tuition, she said she is looking to write children's books. Dalton School expressed their support for Fonte's "aspirations" and respected her decision to "focus on her work as an independent Health Educator."
But Fonte isn't the only teacher to leave the school this year. She is one of three who have decided to leave Dalton School over conflicts with parents because of progressive agenda. The school's "Diversity, Equity and Inclusion" Director Domonic Rollins resigned in February to "pursue other opportunities," while Headmaster Jim Best also announced in April that he was leaving the school to pursue "other exciting and inspiring opportunities."
Across the United States, legislation on sex education varies. For example, Alabama schools are not mandated to teach sex education and if they do, "it does not have to be medically accurate." It's a stark contrast to Oregon, which mandates sex education to be taught in schools and must be "medically accurate, age appropriate and culturally appropriate," WBUR reported.
"In the perfect world, it should be both having the schools covering comprehensive sex education information and also seeing the parents as partners in those ongoing conversations because it's not a one and done, it's an ongoing conversation for sure," Dr. Jennifer Lincoln, a practicing OB-GYN from Portland, Oregon, said.