Minneapolis city inspectors have cited an adult novelty shop in Uptown for code violations after a group of private school students visited the store on a field trip late last week.
City officials sent a license inspector and a zoning inspector in plainclothes to Smitten Kitten on Tuesday after a Star Tribune news report about Gaia Democratic School bringing a sex education class to the store.
Inspectors found that the store did not isolate sexually explicit materials in a separate section of the shop, as required by city code, said Grant Wilson, who oversees business licensing for the city. The store also had sexually explicit materials within view of minors, which is also a violation.
“We’re just citing what we saw today as a violation,” Wilson said.
A couple of parents were angered that they weren’t notified before a dozen of Gaia’s students, as young as 11, were taken to the store last Friday as part of a field trip at the end of months of sex education classes at the school.
The store is being ordered to fix the problems, but no fines or other penalties have been issued, Wilson said. Inspectors said they believe that Smitten Kitten management will be able to reconfigure the store to fix the problems.
Smitten Kitten must conform to more stringent zoning rules because it is outside of downtown Minneapolis, where the restrictions are more lax for adult-oriented businesses, Wilson said. The city has stricter limits on how much of the inventory can be sexually explicit material.
“If you are going to be out in the neighborhoods out of downtown, you can have sexually explicit material, but only [in] 15 percent of your retail floor area,” Wilson said.
Smitten Kitten opened in 2003 and is committed to promoting “an inclusive, shame-free environment where it’s OK to talk about all kinds of consensual sex.” Besides selling sex toys, books and DVDs, the store offers free educational workshops.
The school’s director, Starri Hedges, defended the trip, saying that it was educational and that students were able to talk freely with the sex educators.
Members of Gaia’s school community were expected to gather Tuesday night to discuss the field trip. The school has about 25 students and rents space in a Unitarian church on Mount Curve Avenue. □