We mentioned this suit in passing back in November in Morning Docket. At first blush, this complaint looks like a slam dunk for the plaintiff. A 60-year-old continuing education student named Karen Royce sued her professor of “Human Sexuality” for giving her some intimate homework.
Professor Tom Kubistant allegedly told his students to masturbate “twice as often,” and required them to keep a sexual journal and discuss it with the class.
Usually, when your class starts sounding like the beginning of a Shannon Tweed movie, you can expect a successful lawsuit against you. But here’s the thing: Professor Kubistant required students to sign a waiver. And Royce signed it.
And all the other students arguably signed a waiver saying they’d listen to the sexual thoughts of a 60-year-old….
Westlaw Insider has the details on this class that maybe should have been taught at the Mustang Ranch instead of Western Nevada College. It wasn’t a class for the easily embarrassed:
As you could likely already surmise, the term paper was about the student’s own sexual experiences.
Moreover, according to the complaint, Kubistant was very specific about exactly what topics and points were required to be covered by the assignment.
Some of the topics allegedly included:
* When did I begin early exploration of my genitals?
* Describe any sexual abuse;
* How did I lose my virginity?
* Did I experience a homosexual outing or phase, and what challenges were associated with that?
* Describe personal promiscuity behaviors;
* Do I cheat and how do I feel about it?
* How do I become sexually aroused?
* What kind of foreplay arouses me?
* Describe my climax patterns;
* Describe my climax challenges;
* What are my masturbation habits?
* List all my sexual partners and describe the differences;
* Have I ever had sexually-transmitted diseases?
* Have I been raped or experienced any sexual coercion?
* What kind of fetishes do I have?
* What do I need to become more sexually satisfied?
Royce objected to these assignments. But she did sign a waiver:
On the first day of class, Kubistant handed out waivers entitled “Acknowledgement for Human Sexuality Class” for the students to sign.
Royce signed this waiver, but admitted that she didn’t read through it before doing so.
The complaint doesn’t tell us what’s on the waiver, but school administrators and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights seem to believe that Royce’s complaints lacked merit, probably in large part because of this waiver.
Of course, there are some things you can’t waive, but it’s not like Kubistant was asking Royce to get freaky with a cucumber at the front of the class. We’re talking about talking about things. Agreeing to talk about sensitive details seems like exactly the kind of thing you can “acknowledge” before the start of the semester.
I guess there is one lesson Royce will get from this class: read what you sign. It’s kind of sad that she’s evidently made it all the way to 60 without reading the stuff she signs.