Is There a Radical Solution for the Debate Over Comprehensive Sex Ed?
Insider Info from a curriculum committee on health in public schools
Is it the responsibility of public schools to teach our children about sex?
If your answer is “yes”, then what aspects of sex should be open for discussion in the classroom?
Long gone is the basic “birds and bees” curriculum, which traditionally was constrained to a discussion of anatomy and biology. If you’re a parent in your 30s or 40s you might remember that day in fifth grade when one of your lucky teachers got the job of separating the boys from the girls and showing them a film strip about body parts, babies, and puberty. The whole educational experience probably took less than 40 minutes and usually didn’t involve much discussion.
Fast forward to a new America—todays public school requirements for Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE) include education on STDs, AIDS, birth control, abortion, sexual abuse, healthy relationships, how to determine if you’ve properly received or given consent, gender roles, gender identities, an ever-expanding menu of options for sexual orientation and finally the “how-to” conversations which are required to start in kindergarten. Under every one of those subjects are a few more tangential conversations that government-run schools would like our kids to have with teachers--like a frank discussion of all the slang terms for genitals. Washington also requires a conversation about how media and parents influence a student’s feelings about their sexuality, and finally a section on how to find the “facts” and “science” they can trust.
Whose science? And whose version of the “facts”?
For parents who fully trust the government to do right by their children, they might support the idea of teachers handling these conversations that were previously their responsibility.
I’m not one of those parents. And neither are the 10,000+ parents I’ve connected with in the Washington Parents Alliance (WAPA) in the last year. The majority of us feel as though a very sacred and special conversation with our children has been stolen from us. What is shared and felt in this conversation is as sacred and intimate as sex itself, which is why it is our responsibility to decide when and how it happens.