Parent Janet Mendes is criticizing a New Jersey middle school for allegedly asking sixth-graders if they were HIV positive. According to Mendes, the query was posed before students of Hackensack Middle School were allowed to go on a four-day camping trip.
According to TV station ABC 7, Mendes told journalists that a teacher had “mentioned it in the classroom, where if you had HIV positive, you are not allowed to come on the trip, which is a sixth-grade camp trip.”
Mendes said she had spoken to other parents about the incident. They, too, were shocked, and surprised by the question. Mendes said that she and the other parents wanted the teacher in question to be fired.
The school has disputed Mendes’ claims. They said that the event is the result of a misunderstanding. Educational authorities claim that the teacher asked the children about “HIB,” which is short for the phrase “Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying.”
But the Mendes family say they’re not buying it.
The Hackensack controversy arrives during a tempestuous time for public education and the LGBT+ community.
Although some school districts have been tolerant and open-minded about LGBT+ issues, there have been widespread reports of intolerant or bizarre behavior. In some locations, same-sex couples have been barred from participating in prom court. In May, a California school allegedly instructed a student to cover up an LGBT+ related shirt; one district in Oregon banned students from a reading competition because the list of permitted books included trans-related material.
Mendes added, “If somebody in there has [HIV], you really aren’t supposed to say anything about it, because that’s confidential.”