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Teacher at center of Peterson Middle School video controversy resigns

The Hal Peterson Middle School teacher at the center of a brewing controversy over the appropriateness of videos shown in a college and careers class resigned from the Kerrville Independent School District.

The teacher, who KISD does not name, faced a backlash from right-wing groups about videos they said were designed to “groom” children for an LGBTQ+ lifestyle. The matter faced more significant expansion when Hal Peterson Middle School Principal Tana Althaus said the teacher showed the videos in class without authorization in September and October. KISD confirmed the resignation on Monday.

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“Topics contained in these videos are not aligned to the curriculum and should not have been shown to middle school students,” Althaus wrote parents in a Nov. 28 letter. “I feel it is important for you to view these videos so you have the opportunity as a parent to discuss them with your children.”

The district has not formerly named the teacher, but that could become public during tonight’s school board meeting.

The situation garnered the attention of Kerr County Precinct 1 Commissioner Harley David Belew, who repeatedly attacked the teacher on his morning radio show. Belew said the videos were for grooming purposes. The term grooming stems from a conspiracy theory that liberals and LGBTQ+ are working to sexualize children through suggestive videos or “porn.” However, the three videos in question contain none of those elements.

Kerrville's Peterson Middle School

One video deals with middle school stressors and coping mechanisms. One of the students interviewed dealt with gender identity issues and self-harm. The other two videos focused on beating the odds to get to college, including profiles on LGBTQ+ students and one whose parents were drug addicts. The second video dealt with how social media has negatively affected teens’ self-image through likes and shares. In the case of the latter video, produced in 2014 by PBS’ Frontline, the context was that the more teens sexualized themselves, the more popular they became.


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