Ohio teacher is suspended for giving high schoolers a 'morality' quiz addressing incest, violence and fat-shaming

Some Ohio high schoolers were administered a virtual quiz on morality, and parents aren’t happy. (Photo: Getty Images)

An Ohio high school teacher was suspended after her attempt to educate her students about morality outraged parents in the community.

Disturbed parents contacted local TV station WSYX about questions their children had to answer in an English class at Hilliard Bradley High School in Hilliard, Ohio. The quiz was created by Individual Differences Research Labs with the help of “researchers who study morality, ethics, psychology, and politics.” The purpose of the test is to “understand human behavior better and individual differences more in depth.”

The test consists of 36 scenarios, many of which are alarming in nature and address topics like violence, incest, and bullying. The test taker has to rate each scenario on a scale from “Not OK” to “OK.”

Tenth graders in the language arts class were judging situations like “Using both a condom and the Pill, a brother and a sister decide that they want to sleep with each other — just once, to see what it would be like,” “While on a live on-air TV show, a man kills a baby rabbit with a knife,” and “When Lily tells her classmate Sue that it’s her dream to be prom queen, Sue laughs out loud and says: ‘You’re too ugly for that.’”

Although some of the questions are less controversial than those involving incest — including one about a kid turning up the TV while his dad talks about serving in the military — Todd Sandberg, whose son took the quiz in this class, pointed out that these are topics 15-year-olds can’t fully comprehend yet. “While such provocative questions might be appropriate in a college-level philosophy class, he can’t figure out why it’s being given to 15-year-olds in a language arts class, in which topics typically include reading, handwriting, composition, vocabulary, and spelling,” the Columbus Dispatch reported.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Sandberg’s son, who is in 10th grade, told him about the online test he took in class Wednesday. Sandberg thought parents needed to know about it, so he posted about the incident on a Facebook page for Hilliard residents. “My job was to point it out,” Sandberg told the Columbus Dispatch Thursday. “It is clearly evident that it’s out there in the public. The public eye is aware of it.” He said he had a feeling it would cause a firestorm, which it did.

The school district was alerted of the quiz and released a statement. “Last night, we were made aware of a classroom activity that should never have taken place,” it said. “We absolutely share the outrage of our parents and community.” The district apologized to students and families in the written statement. “It is important to understand this was an isolated incident, and an activity of this nature would never be considered acceptable.”

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the teacher was Sarah Gillam, who has been teaching at Hilliard Bradley High School since 2007. She has since been suspended, and the local paper retrieved the suspension letter. “You are directed to remain off school grounds unless you have permission from me,” superintendent John Marschhausen wrote in the letter. “You are directed not to have any contact with any students and/or any Hilliard City School staff.”

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