Starri Hedges, executive director of Gaia Democratic School in Minneapolis, Minn., and the school’s board members stand by their decision that a recent field trip Hedges and students from the school took was in fact educational.
In a statement posted on the school’s website, they state: “Gaia Democratic School’s board of directors stands behind the premise of the field trip; we view it as a legitimate learning experience that relates directly to topics covered during our year-long Sexual Health class. Our in-class discussions paved the way to a store visit and the participants communicated to us that the trip was a positive educational experience. No student was required to attend.”
The field trip was to an adult toy store in Minneapolis called Smitten Kitten. Hedges took roughly a dozen students ranging from middle school to high school age. However, parents reportedly did not receive notice of the field trip before it took place. One parent, Lynn Floyd, is not satisfied with the school’s explanation of and justification for the trip. He filed a police report and has removed all three of his children from the school. Two of his children did attend the field trip. The younger of the two who attended is 11 years old.
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In an interview on the FreeThinking Forum, Hedges discusses the ideas and principles behind the school, and the way the school views education. Being a child of the democratic school system herself, she believes in the idea of free-thinking learning in a democratic environment. During the interview, she stated: “The more you study the educational system in the United States, and the history of it, the more you will find that many things that we are still practicing in our schools today are really out of date, and are really much more about creating an obedient person, than about learning on a deep level.”
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Hedges stated in her interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune: “It was certainly the first time we have taken that kind of field trip and it will probably be our last, which I feel bad [about] because the kids had so much fun.”
Even if the field trip was done under the best of intentions, Minneapolis city code states that persons younger than 18 should not be exposed to “sexually provocative written, photographic, printed, sound or published materials deemed harmful to minors.” The incident is currently under investigation to determine if there was just poor judgement involved, or if a law was actually broken.
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