Opting out is not new

Staff Writer

In response to a story circulated by the website BuzzFeed and subsequently other media outlets, Wapakoneta City Schools Superintendent Keith Horner said Wapakoneta Middle School students' choice to opt out of a lesson on Islam in a social studies class is consistent with board policy and state law, specifically Ohio Revised Code 3313.601.

Horner said the lesson in question is only a “very small part” of a social studies class taught at the middle school level, saying it is only a one- or two-day lesson that is included according to state curriculum.

He added about the class, “We’re teaching ancient civilizations, and religion is a part of that.”

Horner also noted that Islam is not the only religion that is talked about in the class. According to the state of Ohio’s Social Studies Learning Standards, upon which the content of the class is based, the impact of major world religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism) on modern cultural practices are listed as a content statement to be taught.

“We’re certainly not advocating not teaching this stuff,” said Horner. “That’s not our intent. It’s to be sensitive to parents’ wishes for their (children’s) education.

"Occasionally, people find some of our topics that we cover controversial or offensive. This one just happens to be broadly politicized right now.”
Horner indicated that only an estimated 10 students decided to not participate in the lesson on Islam.