6th-graders ‘traumatized’ after anti-abortion video shown in class, parents say

Parents say video was inappropriate .
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 5:49 AM EDT|Updated: May. 11, 2022 at 6:04 AM EDT
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LAS VEGAS (KVVU/Gray News) - Parents of middle school students in Nevada are outraged after they said their students’ teacher showed an anti-abortion video in her classroom that featured a dramatized reenactment of the abortion procedure.

Sixth-graders told their parents that their teacher showed them the disturbing content in their reading class at Thurman White Academy of the Performing Arts, a magnet school in Henderson.

The parents said that their students “are now traumatized,” so they are reaching out to Clark County School District employees, demanding answers, KVVU reports.

The YouTube video parents referred to showed a group of young performers in a faith-based performance group on stage, pretending to be an unborn fetus. At one point, the performers writhed and screamed in pain while pretending to be terminated by a doctor.

“He’s just so stressed and upset and uptight about it,” said Haleigh Isbill, one of the parents of a 12-year-old student. “He was so bothered that, like, he doesn’t even want to be in the same room when we talked about what happened.”

Isbill said “she cannot express just how upset she is” because she said the content was inappropriate for the classroom.

“It’s not an indictment on her beliefs even. It’s ‘don’t show that to our babies.’ That’s inappropriate for public school,” Isbill said.

On Monday, parents said the video was so disturbing, it would have even required a trigger warning for adults.

In an email to the teacher, Isbill wrote, “As a parent of a child in your care, I was horrified to find out that you are showing him videos about your religious and political anti-choice agenda.”

Thurman White mother Elaine Edmiston said her 12-year-old told her about it as soon as they got in the car when she picked them up from school Thursday.

“They talked about this weird video they saw in reading class about abortion, and automatically, I was like, ‘Wait, what? That’s odd.’ And they said it was about a readers theater assignment,” Edmiston said.

The video in question has nearly 100,000 views on YouTube.

Parents worked to describe the video.

“The way the doctor was referred to as, ‘Oh no, not that guy again. We don’t like him. We don’t feel safe, but we know you’ll love us anyway. You’ll take care of us.’ And then, ‘Oh, it’s that doctor. What is he doing, Mommy?’ And then they all started screaming, making faces,” Isbill said.

“Like, it burns, it burns!” Edmiston said.

“Like, holding their faces and like bending over and just really emotionally getting into this, writhing, and it’s super disturbing as an adult,” Isbill said. “They’re not even teens yet.”

She said their students are in different classes, but they both saw the video.

“They have the same teacher for reading, two different periods. But she gave them the same curriculum in both classes. They both watched the video. They both saw it,” the parents said.

Isbill said she is only speaking to the media because she is concerned for other families and hopes this does not happen again. She is concerned about the bigger picture.

“How many kids went home and didn’t talk to their parents about it and didn’t say anything because maybe they just thought it was normal? Because it was presented, and it was presented by an authority figure,” Isbill said.

Edmiston said the timing of it is particularly troubling, as students continue to deal with mental health impacts from the pandemic shutdowns.

“To show the part of the video where the children are actually pretending to be a fetus or a baby and they’re screaming about pain, as if... it’s heart-wrenching, as if they’re being tortured. And they’re watching children do this? Especially during a year when we’re just trying to get back on our feet after being home last year,” Edmiston said.

Both parents said their kids said the teacher did not present any other sides of the argument regarding abortion.

Regardless, they said they also feel abortion shouldn’t have been brought up to begin with in a sixth-grade reading class.

The two concerned mothers said they emailed the teacher, the school principal and the district superintendent on Friday.

In that email, Isbill wrote, “We are a multifaith household, and we do not appreciate your input.”

Isbill said she received a message from Thurman White Principal Matthew Jackson on Monday at 5:35 p.m.

She said the message reads, “Recently, we became aware of a video shown to some students in a classroom that was not reviewed properly. The video included subject matter that is not conducive to the social-emotional needs of students. We are making changes to the review process to prevent this type of incident going forward.”

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