Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sexed what children are. Sexed is what all of us are. You don't even have to step out of your house to be confronted with the excesses of a hyper-sexualized culture: just look at a screen.
What's needed is some space. A little space aids perspective. If you're hemmed in by lewd images and lascivious instructions on every side, it can be hard to find a level path. And so:

Sex ed.

There's currently a tempest in a C-cup going on here in Ontario over sexual education. The government redesigned the curriculum to (in my opinion, at least) better reflect the realities our children face, then hurriedly backed down in the face of a small but very vocal minority of parent groups. They're 'rethinking the rethink' now. Sad. Even when this government does something right, it lacks the courage of its conviction.

It is beastly difficult to find a copy of the proposed-then-scrapped curriculum online. The Ministry of Education seems to have removed all reference to it. So I am going to have to work from highly sensationalized media reports. Among the controversial tidbits--
  • Grade one students would have learned about the proper names for body parts
  • Grade three students would have learned about gender identity and sexual orientation
  • Grade six and seven students would have learned about masturbation, anal and vaginal intercourse
Quite a few parents and parent groups are up in arms over this. Some of the comments I've seen are shockingly ignorant, viz.

What the hell are you trying to teach kids. That it's OK for Billy to stick his erect penis into Johnny's butt and Johnny won't get pregnant when you're 7 years old...

Many parents try to sidestep the whole thing by saying it's not about sex ed., it's about preserving their "rights" as parents to educate their offspring as they see fit. Funny, you don't hear this when the subject is math or history.
In a sense, they're right: it's not exactly about sex ed. It's about not wanting their children to grow up. Or, if they have to, it's about making sure they do so as carbon copies of their parents. Which is not what parenting is supposed to be about.
Now, many parents go to great pains to educate their children properly about sexuality. Eva's mom got pregnant with her brother when Eva was 4: she explained to her daughter--using the proper terms--exactly where her brother came from and how he got there. When Eva was twelve, her mom asked her if she was masturbating. Of course Eva was...memo to parents: all twelve year old boys and most twelve year old girls do. Also of course, Eva wasn't going to tell her mother that she masturbated. Next thing she knew, Eva went in for a 'routine' medical check-up, at the end of which the doctor said "so I understand you're not masturbating. Do you know how? Do you need me to show you?"
Compare and contrast her cousin's "sexual education". She (Eva's cousin) was told her mom had 'a bun in the oven' and fully expected baked goods to come out. In her late teens, this cousin became pregnant out of wedlock: her explanation was that she "had two vaginas". Her sister has had several children, by several different men, taken away from her. Now, this is evidence by anecdote, but I really do think it telling.
In case you're thinking Eva's parents had an "anything goes" attitude: she was taught young that if you couldn't call it 'making love', it wasn't worth doing. Did Eva experiment? Yep. But she did it knowing full well what she was up to and what the consequences could be.
The Netherlands has an informal but very explicit sex ed program starting in kindergarten. They also have one of the world's lowest rates of teen pregnancies, thanks to an exceptionally high (93%) rate of contraception use. They're worlds more relaxed about sex, which, contrary to popular expectation, doesn't make them more promiscuous

Many parents are not comfortable, for whatever reason, discussing sexuality with their children. This is a regrettable reality. If parents can't or won't do this, there are two alternatives. Either the schools do it or the kids live in ignorance. Do you want your child educated by the Internet? I sure as hell wouldn't.

Dalton McGuinty, I strongly suggest you rethink the rethink of your rethink.


Wife said...

It's true I have a rather liberal view of sex, and am quite matter of fact about it. I forever thank my Mom for that. Oh, and it should be noted that my Mom is from Holland :)
And my very, very misguided cousin is on my fathers side...

Rocketstar said...

Because sex is dirty Ken, you know that. ;o)

Rocketstar said...