Pennsylvania English Teacher Says His Sex Ed Course Is Designed to 'Desensitize Children' to Sexual Imagery and Genitalia

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A private school in Pennsylvania is employing a “sexuality curriculum” that includes graphic images and video of genitals and sexual acts.

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Teacher Al Vernacchio is an English teacher at Friends’ Central School in Wynnewood, PA. He also coordinates programs and assemblies centered on sexuality. The content goes far beyond the biological aspects of sexual education. Vernacchio says children are inherently sexual beings and he thinks sex education classes should be “transformative.”

In an article for Philadelphia Magazine in 2018, Vernacchio told a reporter he fears easy access to pornography has perverted views of sex for many teens. His solution not to restrict pornography, but rather to show them “better” pornographic images and discuss sex acts and pleasure in attempt to combat the “negative” images of traditional pornography. The article follows the high school English teacher during a ninth-grade sex Ed class, in which he hosts a graphic discussion.

He strolls around the room passing out white envelopes. Inside each are pieces of paper describing various sexual acts, from kissing and feeling someone’s body parts to more advanced ventures, like fellatio and cunnilingus (which the ninth-graders have trouble pronouncing) and “penile penetration” of both the vagina and anus.

Throughout the class, Vernacchio challenges the students to think about sex not as certain activities, but rather as the conditions under which those activities occur — and, perhaps most importantly, whether or not both parties involved enjoy them.

Vernacchio’s goal as an educator is to help students figure out what, exactly, sex means to them and provide them with the skills they’ll need to navigate healthy relationships and, if they choose, sex lives. Few classrooms approach the subject as thoroughly and openly as his does. Which is why, perhaps, his TED Talk, in which he advocates for using pizza (What toppings should we get?) as a healthy metaphor for sex — as opposed to baseball, which he says is problematic — has become so popular.

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Vernacchio is one of his school’s faculty advisors for the Gender and Sexual Orientation Alliance. His TED Talk delves into orientation and gender ideology, themes that present heavily in his school course.

In an unearthed 2011 interview he gave to The New York Times Magazine, Vernacchio described his graphic lesson plans which he said have raised concerns outside the school. The teacher said his goal is to desensitize children to images of genitalia.

His lessons include discussions about oral pleasure and images of masturbation and orgasms, and he reportedly claims on his website the curriculum material is crafted for students from kindergarten to 12th grade. Friends’ Central School told Fox News they do not have sex Ed curriculum before 4th grade.

Al Vernacchio is an English teacher at Friends’ Central School, a private school in Wynnewood. He also is involved in the sexuality curriculum, which expounds from children nursery through 12th grade, according to his website. He has also mentioned this fact on at least one other occasion. After publication of this article, the school reached out and stated there was no “sexual education curriculum prior to fourth grade.”

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Parents of the school don’t seem to have an issue with the program or the teacher, according to the Philadelphia Magazine article.

In 20 years at Friends’ Central, Vernacchio has become well known and highly regarded at the progressive, creative-minded private school. Laurie Novo, who’s worked at Friends’ Central (including as co-principal) for 25 years, says she’s never heard a single parent complain about Vernacchio’s classes. In fact, they’re so wildly popular — especially the 11th- and 12th-grade “Sexuality and Society” curriculum — that the school once had to hold a lottery for seats. Casey Cipriani, a 2001 graduate who took the course’s first iteration, says she recalls other students — and even her own mother — asking to read her homework.

“Desensitizing” children to sexual imagery also happens to be a key step in what is known as “grooming.”

Lest anyone reading this report try to suggest that Vernacchio is just teaching “neutral” sexual education, he himself admits that he wants to educate children in the “freedom” of sexuality and identity.

“I’m only a small part of the village that supports them as they grow. It’s not enough that I teach them. We have to teach them. Part of my message today is that we all, no matter what else we do in life, need to find a way to be sexuality educators for the kids in our lives. If we don’t step up, others will. And many of those others don’t see wholeness and freedom the way we do,” he said. “One of the things we can celebrate today is how young people have so many more options to consider and simply whether they feel like a boy or a girl, or whether they identify as gay, straight or bisexual. Our understandings of both gender and orientation have greatly expanded in our culture, and there’s an ever-increasing list of labels one can use to describe oneself.”

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To anyone reading Vernacchio’s own quotes it should be obvious that his intent isn’t education, but sexualization. While parents at his private school may be in favor of the curriculum, this story should encourage parents seeking alternatives to government schools to always look closely at an institution’s curriculum and agenda before committing. There may be programs, even in private schools, that don’t align with a parent’s attempt to keep their child safe from grooming and other agendas aimed at sexualizing children.

The school told Fox News they stand by Vernacchio’s curriculum.

“Al Vernacchio is a nationally renowned and highly respected educator. It is disappointing that his work and our School are being miscast so thoroughly. Friends’ Central is committed to cultivating the intellectual, ethical and spiritual promise of our students, in a world that needs that more than ever,” they said in a statement.

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