A high-school teacher in Mississippi has gotten the green light to return to the classroom after a nearly weeklong suspension. Her crime? Permitting a student to demonstrate safe-sex practices by putting a condom on a cucumber.
The brouhaha began on Nov. 12, when a student in Sheree Ferguson’s English class in Starkville, Mississippi, “made a career presentation about becoming a sexologist and used a cucumber to demonstrate condom use,” according to an Associated Press account of the controversy.
Several days after another student posted the demonstration to Facebook, Ferguson was removed from the classroom for violating Mississippi’s prohibition of any and all sex-ed demonstrations; any discussion of condoms is likewise verboten. (Many districts play it safe, so to speak, and stick with those ever-effective abstinence-only lessons.)
Ferguson’s supporters took action, getting more than 2,500 signatures (which is equivalent to approximately one-tenth of the Mississippi town’s population) on an online petition on change.org protesting the suspension, which was made “despite the fact that Mrs. Ferguson was not aware of the exact nature of the demonstration beforehand (it was only finalized at 10 p.m. the night before), and she did not allow students to keep the condoms (or cucumbers) from the demonstration.”
After three-dozen Ferguson defenders marched outside the school on Friday, the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District released a statement saying that while Ferguson would “face appropriate disciplinary action” (whatever that might mean), she would be allowed to return to the classroom (at some unspecified date):
While the condom demonstration that occurred during the presentation is a violation of Mississippi law and school board policy, the resulting personnel issues [go] beyond that scope to include how the employee involved responded during an inquiry regarding the presentation.
Using cucumbers to model good condom practices is nothing new or revolutionary. In a remarkable coincidence, Khloé Kardashian gave her mother a condom lesson using the selfsame vegetable on Sunday’s Keeping Up With the Kardashians. “You got condom juice all over my shirt!” Kris Jenner yells—and we’ll let her have the last word on this topic.