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Janesville superintendent apologizes for pro-gay marriage video shown at Craig High

By Greg Neumann

JANESVILLE (WKOW) -- A controversy in Janesville over a pro-gay marriage video shown during school hours could lead to a change in district policy.

In their advisory period on April 11th, students at Craig High School watched a video called "Kids React To Gay Marriage."

The school's Gay/Straight Alliance Club picked the video to be shown in observance of the Day of Silence, which calls attention to harassment and discrimination faced by LGBT students.

But three families with kids at the school felt it didn't have anything to do with that.

"I felt it was very misleading and I felt it was propaganda," said Jo Yungerman, the grandmother of a Craig High Freshman.

Tom Yungerman said his son simply left the room when the video came on.

"He was basically horrified by it," said Yungerman, who said he teaches his sons only about traditional marriage.

The district is now apologizing, saying the video shouldn't have been shown without an opposing viewpoint also being presented.

"Once I viewed the video I felt like it was biased to one side and that is the issue that we as a school district have, because of our board policy," said Dr. Karen Schulte, Superintendent of the Janesville School District.

"It broke policies," said Janesville School Board member Bill Sodemann, who was also upset by the video. "We have a policy against political activity in schools. We have a policy regarding controversial issues."

But Dr. Schulte says that policy may have to be adjusted, because it doesn't apply specifically to clubs and an advisory period may not be considered an actual class by some.

"One of our corrective actions is to make the guidelines clearer so they understand," said Dr. Schulte.

But Tom Yungerman says he also wants to be notified next time a controversial video is going to be shown.

"Give us a chance to opt our students out of this. If it doesn't go along with what I'm trying to teach my kids, then I don't want them to see it," said Yungerman.

The Janesville School Board has a meeting scheduled for Tuesday night, but the issue is not on the agenda.

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JANESVILLE (WKOW) -- The superintendent of the Janesville School District sent a letter out Tuesday morning to condemn the showing of a video called "Kids React To Gay Marriage" at Craig High School last month.

Dr. Karen Schulte wrote that the video was selected by the school's Gay/Straight Alliance and approved by both the club's advisors and Craig High Principal Dr. Alison Bjoin to be shown as part of the Day of Silence observance on April 11.

Dr. Schulte goes on to write that the district believes the video was not consistent with the goals and purposes of the Day of Silence, which is designed to call attention to the harassment and discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.

According to Dr. Schulte, district policy requires that students are presented with relevant information where they can carefully examine all sides of an issue. She calls the showing of the video a "violation specifically of our policy on Controversial Issues and the policy on Political Activities."

Dr. Schulte apologizes for the video being shown and promises "proactive measures will be taken to correct the situation."

Janesville Board of Education member Bill Sodemann tells 27 News heSodemannntacted by the grandmother of a Craig High student last Tuesday, who was very upset because the video had been shown.

Sodemann says he was not aware of the video until that time, but also became very upset when he looked into the matter and found out it had been shown. Sodemann says he then took steps to investigate the matter and voice his concerns to the district.