SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake family raised concerns this week over a “$5 Date” assignment from a class at Highland High School, prompting school district and state administrators to take action.
Jenn Oxborrow and her daughter, Lucy Mulligan, said the assignment, issued in an adult roles and financial literacy class, exhibited gender bias.
“It’s just completely unfair, I think,” said Mulligan, an 11th-grader at Highland High.
The assignment to “go on a date” came with two handouts that included several “suggestions” for girls from boys and for boys from girls.
Among the listed suggestions for girls from boys were: Don’t waste his money; be feminine and ladylike; don’t worry about your appearance the whole date; and "if you think you’re too fat, etc., keep it to yourself.”
“That does give girls, I think, a really negative message about how they should feel about their bodies and themselves,” Mulligan said.
The listed suggestions for boys from girls included: Don’t feel entitled to a kiss or more; dress for the occasion, like you care about her; don’t drive recklessly; and don’t exaggerate to friends about what happened on the date.
“There’s so many power and control issues within this. It’s really dangerous,” said Oxborrow, who works as a therapist.
Salt Lake City School District spokesman Jason Olsen said Tuesday that the handouts had “definite gender bias” but added that the teacher was “mortified” and did not want to “cause hurt” with students.
Olsen said the handouts were not created by the teacher, but were pulled from a statewide database of classroom materials educators can reference on a variety of topics.
Utah State Office of Education spokesman Mark Peterson said the materials on the Utah Education Network database are user-submitted, and it was unclear how long the “$5 Date” handouts had been there or who had placed them online.
Peterson said the materials are submitted by licensed educators.
“Larry Flynt can’t come in and upload something, but a teacher from ‘X’ high school can,” he explained.
Peterson said the handouts were “clearly inappropriate” and have been removed from the database.
Oxborrow and her daughter questioned why the assignment was part of the adult roles and financial literacy class in the first place, and said they are glad the district and state responded so quickly.
“It’s just not OK,” Oxborrow said.