The above screenshot shows the original descriptions of the so-called “Safe Space” class being offered at Randy Smith Middle School in Fairbanks.

After it was discovered that Fairbanks’ Randy Smith Middle School was preparing to launch an explicitly LGBTQ “explorations” class for 6th-8th grade students during academic instruction time, the school quickly changed the description of the class and removed any references to sexuality earlier this month.

Initially, an internal email to school staff included a link that described the elective class as a “Gay Straight Alliance-based” exploration that was open only to students who “identify as LGBTQAI+ or close friends and/or allies (support).” The original description explained that students would “do a variety of things including crafts, open conversations, music and possibly community service.”

The altered description has since edited out any references to Gay Straight Alliance or LGBTQ. Instead, the class is described as “a safe space for students to create, and have fun while connecting to peers in a positive and safe environment while at school. Students will guide projects and activities that may include art, music, cooking/baking and possibly community service.”

The above screenshot shows the edited descriptions of the so-called “Safe Space” class being offered at Randy Smith Middle School in Fairbanks. It omits any references to Gay Straight Alliance or LGBTQ sexuality.

While the newer, far more generic description omits any mention of LGBTQ sexuality, the term “Safe Space” is a popular moniker for school groups all across the country which promote LGBTQ ideology. In fact, the term originated in gay bars in the mid-1960s.

The “Safe Space” class at Randy Smith Middle School will be overseen by music teacher Bobb Lockwood, whose personal Facebook page contains several LGBTQ themed photos and images. One post features a drawing of Lockwood by a student, which depicts the teacher as a drag queen (see image here). Another shows him encircled in a LGBTQ ring.

The Safe Space class is part of a larger schoolwide “Explorations” program that lets students sign up for various offerings. These include classes that focus on cooking, “positive vibes,” film, friendship bracelets, princess movies, ping pong, Dungeons & Dragons role playing games, uncensored writing about “zombies, horror, sci-fi, teen angst, sappy Romance, blood and gore, or cupcakes and rainbows” and much more.

Randy Smith Middle School teacher Bobb Lockwood posted this Facebook image of himself encircled in a LGBTQ ring.

According to Principal Dershin, the 55-minute classes occur at the end of each Friday with students selecting their preferred class at the beginning of each academic quarter. Most recently, students made their selections on Oct. 12.

“Exploration Groups provide opportunity for peer-to-peer interaction and help strengthen teacher-student relationships, in a less structured environment,” Dershin explained in an Oct. 14 email to the Watchman. “Skill based groups, such as Cooking 101, are led by teachers, while other activities are less formal and do not offer instruction. All groups and activities are supervised by staff.” 

Dershin noted that students are free to sign up for whatever “exploration” they want, without parental permission, and grades are not assigned for participation.

“Parent permission is not required for students to join a group,” he explained. “Information about Exploration Groups is provided to families ahead of selection during open houses and family visit days. The Groups are also listed as courses in PowerSchool, our student information system. If a parent/guardian is concerned with an exploration choice, school staff will work with parents/guardians on an individual basis.”

Randy Smith Middle School Principal Dave Dershin.

Unlike traditional school clubs, which typically occur during lunch or after school, exploration classes take place during school instructional hours and under the supervision of paid teachers.

This raises questions about parental consent and notification, especially with regard to the class which was originally described as dealing with issues surrounding LGBTQ sexual identity and orientation.

According to Alaska State Statute (14.03.016) a parent has the authority to “object to and withdraw the child from an activity, class, or program.”

The law states that parents must be notified “not less than two weeks before any activity, class, or program that includes content involving human reproduction or sexual matters is provided to a child.”

Parents have the right to “review the content of an activity, class, performance standard, or program,” according to the law.

The Randy Smith Middle School controversy comes on the heels of news that nearby Ryan Middle School was using school resources to encourage youth to question and explore their sexual orientation, gender identity and how to engage in various sexual acts, while then directing kids with sexual questions to speak confidentially to school counselors (read that article here).


— Click here to contact the Fairbanks School Board.

— Click here to contact the Fairbanks District Chief School Administrator Karen Melin.

— To contact Randy Smith Middle School Principal Dave Dershin, email or call (907)-458-7600 x9100.

Click here to support Alaska Watchman reporting.

Second Fairbanks middle school sparks controversy over LGBTQ offerings

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Lobo says:

    I am sure that they will obey the state statute (law) .. intended.

  • Lobo says:

    Sarcasm intended

  • Trained Observer says:

    So, they amended the proposed content and class description on paper (online). There is no indication that the instruction will not be offered in a different format. But how does a ‘teacher’ grade a student on the material instructed where there is no objective standard? As quoted, “Skill based groups, such as Cooking 101, are led by teachers, while other activities are less formal and do not offer instruction. All groups and activities are supervised by staff.” This class description just tosses out ideas that might be used to add content to the class and has no real objectives except participatory, to indoctrinate children. School sports programs administer severe restrictions on activities to lessen exposure for the potential of physical injury during play, to include, parental permission, physical exams, medical insurance, etc. But the psychological and mental health injuries being inflicted on these children leads to a more severe physical and emotional injury with little more than a shaded invitation for parents to decline. We are now beginning to see hospitals programs across the nation actively promoting and conducting gender altering surgery on adolescent girls in the form of radical mastectomies. Many of these happen after some underqualified school nurse or psychologist becomes overly and inappropriately involved in a child’s confidential health and asserts themselves for the child to the parent. The parents need to stop buying what the schools are selling. These classrooms are where the indoctrination will be promoted. This is not the responsibility of the education system and parents should not be snowed by the NEA, PTA’s, School Boards and Teachers Unions. They are our children; We did not rent, lend or lease them to public funded, State run schools to be manipulated and returned to us as damaged or altered. It’s interesting that Charter and Private or Parochial schools don’t offer such classes. Parents need to take back control of the education system.

  • Karen Jensen says:

    You people don’t know either of these fine education professionals but I do. They are both excellent. Mr Lockwood was a great teacher for both of my kids, a truly wonderful person. Shame on you for making false accusations and pretending anything like “indoctrination” is happening here. Shame on you. I strongly support both and all other teachers who really do make kids safe – kids you all would probably like to hurt because you’re just plain mean. Shame on you.

    • EJ Johnson says:

      Shame on YOU for intentionally lying and misleading the public.

    • Richard Corbeil says:

      Karen, Sex education is teaching kids where babies come from, how they get started, and why breasts or hair are starting to grow in places. Grooming is introducing sexual activities to children who should not be performing sexual activities. And the latter is evil. Now maybe you’re the kind of parent who supports such grooming, maybe not. But suggesting that ANYONE should support such things or face being called names like “just plain mean” is an act of supporting it.

  • disgruntled parent says:

    For those not familiar with the goings-on of the Fairbanks school district, it is worth mentioning that offerings described here and in the previous post about Ryan Middle School were made possible by the so-called “conservative” bloc of the school board. Against both the wishes of parents and the “liberal” bloc of the school board, they voted to move all of the sixth graders from elementary schools and K-8 schools into these middle schools, with the only reason being given that the middle schools would then provide “more electives” for them. Well, this is what “more electives” looks like, as was entirely predictable and predicted.

  • Jasmine Nickell says:

    This attack on another school is disgusting ! There are suicidal kids literally lined up outside counseling, and you are not accurate on your reporting, please quit spreading misinformation. You should be ashamed please find real news !!! Especially during a time where we can’t even fund teachers and school counselors to help these kids stay alive, thanks a lot

    • EJ Johnson says:

      Once again, the only misinformation here is being spread by the Left.

    • david Boyle says:

      Jasmine, please show me where “we can’t even fund teachers and school counselors to help these kids stay alive”. What is the audited per student funding in the Fairbanks’ schools? The teachers unions caused much of the anxiety, depression, suicidal tendencies, and other mental health problems by closing the schools during the so-called pandemic. Now the education industry wants more money to solve the mental health problems they caused. This was predictable: Cause a problem and then want $$ to solve the problem. BTW, the Anchorage School Board just voted to fund $5 Million for mental health—a problem it caused by allowing the schools to close for too long a time.

    • Richard Corbeil says:

      groomers often use the false “suicidal kids” argument to bolster themselves and pretend to take the high ground. it is however a totally false argument and won’t float. Instead of schools teaching kids the fine art of sex, or that a boy can actually be a girl they should focus on the three R’s and it has proven itself a dismal failure in the one and only thing it is supposed to be doing.