Laura Maria Gruber, a mother from San Antonio, Texas, was shocked to learn that her 13-year-old daughter was asked to participate in a questionable classroom game at KIPP Poder Academy, a charter school that prides itself on promoting “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” The game in question, known as “Bear-Hooker-Hunter,” is an adult drinking game version of rock-paper-scissors.
Gruber discovered the game’s nature when her daughter recounted the day’s events after school. According to Gruber, the seventh graders in the Social Emotional Learning class were asked to pair up, stand in front of the room, and strike one of three poses: a hunter pointing an imaginary gun, a bear with paws up, or a “seducing hooker” with one hand on their hip and the other behind their ear. The game’s objective was unclear, but Gruber felt it sexualized the children.
Gruber’s daughter chose not to participate in the game. However, the young girl told her mother that some students were allegedly bribed with candy to encourage their participation. Gruber expressed concern about the type of educators that modern universities are producing and the impact on students.
Disturbed by the incident, Gruber removed her daughter from the school a week later but pursued the matter further with school administrators. Following several months of discussions with KIPP administrators in San Antonio and Austin, Gruber received a partial apology from the school board.
Parents of other students at the school only became aware of the incident after the board issued the apology. Gruber felt the response was insufficient. KIPP acknowledged the game took place as described, but four levels of administration, including School Principal Stephanie Lee, Deputy Superintendent Jeremy Gray, Regional Superintendent Allen Smith, and KIPP Texas CEO Sehba Ali, denied that the game sexualized children.
In a letter to school families, Principal Lee admitted that the game “did not meet our bar of excellence” and was not part of KIPP’s curriculum. She acknowledged that the game should never have been played in the school and apologized for any discomfort or trauma it may have caused. Despite this, she maintained that the intent was never to sexualize the students.
KIPP is nationally recognized for its progressive education in the United States and for providing equitable education to Black, Latino, and LGBTQIA children. School administrators were unavailable for comment.