Let’s Teach Some Sex! In School!03.30.09
Amy Sullivan wonders if public school is the right place to teach kids about sex. She’s not sure it is. I say: if not public teachers, from whom are kids going to learn about sex? Let’s go through the options:
1) Parents. This is always the go-to answer. Why, though? Sexual intercourse is a biological function that I bet most parents don’t know all that much about. Just because they had sex and managed to produce offspring doesn’t make them experts anymore than they are qualified to explain the inner-workings of human bowels simply because they’ve had a big meal and then gone to the bathroom immediately afterward.
2) Religious institutions. Most have a pretty simple guideline: don’t have sex until marriage. That’s great but enough studies have proven that abstinence teaching hasn’t helped curb the rates of STD transmissions or unplanned pregnancies. They can offer some moral and spiritual assistance, but kids need to actually know the biological ramifications of having sex (you know, the consequences that will for sure affect your life: orgasms, disease, more humans that look a lot like you).
3) Other kids. Probably the most common – and hated – sex-ed teacher around. I don’t know how many times I heard my mom tell me to ask her about things I had questions about instead of asking my friends. Unlike many kids, I listened to her and went to her to clarify the definitions of so many things I heard in school – after I had long discussions with my equally clueless friends, of course. (And that’s assuming my mom knew all the answers, too.) The rest of us just went along with whatever the majority said was true until proven otherwise. Not exactly the scientific method.
4) Siblings. Much the same problems as learning from friends although arguably even less reliable since odds are your older brother has even less idea what he’s doing than you do in seventh grade. It’s like a continuous chain of the blind leading the blind.
When are we going to understand that teaching the facts about a biological function such as sexual intercourse does not condone or encourage doing said act? If we lose the stigma attached with talking about sex, it won’t take away from the act’s spiritual, moral, and personal importance.
Sex education should be taught in public schools. It should be a mandatory part of the science curriculum: a stage for elementary, a stage for middle school, and another couple stages for high school. Age-appropriate information should be taught throughout a child’s schooling career so that by the time that they are old enough to be thinking about making sexual decisions (earlier than everyone likes to admit), they will at least have some facts tucked away with which to make that decision educated and not ignorant.