There are three fundamental questions parents usually ask about Sex Education In Schools
- What do kids need to know?
- When do they need to know it?
- What should they not be taught?
What do kids need to know?
Most parents remember their own awkward health and hygiene classes and imagine that what’s going on to has something to do with abstinence and warnings against sexually transmitted diseases. The NCSL has all their requirements laid out, and they sound alright: sex education should be “age appropriate; medically accurate and objective; appropriate for use with pupils of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and ethnic and cultural backgrounds… It shall not teach or promote religious doctrine.” Many schools are not required to teach comprehensive sexual health education (human development and sexuality, education on pregnancy, family planning, and STDs) but they are required to teach HIV/AIDS prevention. The optional but more ‘Comprehensive Sex Education’ is based on four premises:
- Teenage sexual activity is inevitable.
- Educators should be value-neutral regarding sex.
- Schools should openly discuss sexual matters.
- Sex education should teach students about contraception.
A lot of parents feel that “when we look at the teen pregnancy rates, sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, it only makes sense to have as much education as possible.” After all, “withholding information about sex and sexuality will not keep children safe; it will only keep them ignorant.”
Other parents believe sex doesn’t belong in school—at least beyond the facts of anatomy, and the simple facts of reproduction they’d learn in biology class anyways. To this one CNN article asks: “How in the world do we say it’s OK for schools to teach our children about math, science, history, and numerous other subjects, yet then get high and mighty with righteous indignation when biology is taken a step further to focus on sex?” How to be successful, responsible, socially sensitive, and tolerant citizens are all taught in schools; these principles are enforced in the curriculum and in extensive anti-bullying campaigns and other initiatives. Why not add sex education to the mix so that students can learn how to safely engage in activities with which they are comfortable, and how to have respect for their sexual choices, orientation, and tendencies?
When do they need to know it?
Most experts assert: “children need to know how to reduce their risks of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy before they have sex for the first time.” Which makes sense. Roughly one third of 9th graders have already had vaginal intercourse so… the information should be forthcoming before then. At a minimum. The dominant opinion on the issue is that “just like other topics taught in school, sexuality education should be developmentally appropriate, sequential and complete.” And start in kindergarten. The New York Times “Room for Debate” asked the question, “At What Age Should Sex Education Begin?” The debaters pushed for “honest, sequential and comprehensive sex education” that starts in kindergarten with body part names, and how all living things reproduce, proceeds through high school with the difference between good touch and bad touch, puberty and their changing bodies, Internet safety, information about body image, reproduction, abstinence, contraception, H.I.V. and disease prevention, communication, and healthy relationships.
What should they not be taught?
Most parents would strongly agree with the NCSL’s requirements that the education not violate their beliefs in the areas of gender theory, sexual orientation, cultural background, but instead to remain ‘value-neutral’. But the reality is, that this isn’t really possible. There is no such thing as a value neutral presentation of human sexuality that extends beyond anatomy to issues of family-make-up, contraception, sexual choices, gender theory, and sexual orientation.
The problem with teaching sexual education in a public school is that to speak about sex in a purely physical manner without a social, ethical, emotional, or relational context is itself a presentation of a value system: one that sees sex as a physical act that can be pursued outside of ethical, social, relational contexts without emotional consequence. And that perspective is precisely what is becoming the dominant mind-set of American youth. Sexual harassment, rape, teen pregnancy, unwanted pregnancies ending in abortion, and STDs, are at an all-time high. The American male sexual appetite funds a multi-billion dollar porn industry and is the primary demand source for an international $32 billion sex slavery industry. The duel epidemics of STDs and unintended teen pregnancies have only escalated in the same upward trend as state implementation of comprehensive sex education and school distribution of condoms.
Nearly all of the greatest thinkers from our own century all the way back to Plato and Aristotle are adamant that how a society directs the sexual appetite of it’s youth is the determining factor in it’s ability to survive as a culture. The reason for this is because sex, in all its dimensions, is one of the most single determining forces in human society. “Sex can be cheapened, of course, but then, inevitably, it becomes extremely costly to society as a whole. For sex is the life force—and cohesive impulse—of a people, and their very character will be deeply affected by how sexuality is managed, sublimated, expressed, denied, and propagated. When sex is devalued, propagandized, and deformed, as at present, the quality of our lives declines and our social fabric deteriorates.” Nearly every single ‘social problem’ from incarceration, to poor school performance, to poverty is certainly statistically correlated to sexual choices and some would even say to some extent caused by society’s sexual choices.
A parent’s answer to what should their child not be taught about the nature of a normative healthy sexuality is extremely personal, deeply contradictory, and usually offensive to other parents, and to be honest, personal and private decisions they have the right to make for their child. And this third question really undermines the relevance of the other two. Because a parent’s personal value system of what their child should not be taught as constituting an appropriate sexuality can’t be accommodated by any public school in any curriculum at any age as most parents have values are in direct opposition to one another.
The value system propagated by the so-called ‘valueless’ sex education in our public schools has had a 50 year run and its effects are clear. And frightening. Other parents can make choices for themselves, but for me, I believe that what kids need to know about sex they should learn from their parents. When they need to be sensitized to their parent’s value system is a deeply personal decision that isn’t based on a grade but a subtle maturity that is unique to each child. And as for the question of what should they be taught about what constitutes a normative, healthy sexual expression? I guess that’s only for my kids to know.
What's your opinion?