September 13, 2011
A Guest Post By JON PRESSICK
Think of the children!
This oft-mocked shriek from The Simpsons is often used to deride some right-wing fanatic’s attempt to censor or “protect” children from some unspeakable immorality. But I can’t help but think it has a positive spin and can definitely be applied to teaching children socially responsible skills.
Think about it. When our kids go to school, they learn math, science, geography, grammar, language, art, music, sport, and a host of other things that most parents are not capable of teaching on their own. I know I’m not. I have two daughters and I already cannot do their math or science homework. If they were left to my teachings, they’d fall behind their peers and suffer the numerous problems that can befall someone without certain necessary skills.
So, why should we leave sex education to parents? We need significantly improved, comprehensive sex education for all children, starting at an early age.
In 2010, the government of Ontario introduced a fantastic sex ed curriculum that included discussion on sexuality and different sexual behaviours including anal sex, oral sex and a host of other acts. This work would have started with students in Grade three, giving them an understanding of queer folk, trans folk and their own bodies and sexuality. It was groundbreaking, the work of many years of research into the needs of young people in the world today.
And then it was attacked. The religious and moral right kicked up a major fuss and the proposed curriculum was shelved for further review. Why? Because it conflicted with their beliefs. Sex, in its many permutations, conflicted with what the dissenters want to teach their children at home. And what do they want to teach their children? Let’s see: ignorance, indifference, bigotry and stupidity.
Let’s cut to the chase: when are we going to dispense with the bullshit belief that young people are going to remain virgins until they marry and then stay with that person for the rest of their lives, enjoying lights out, missionary position sex that is only done to produce children?
Young people fuck. Young people have always fucked. Some get more action before they’re 18 than I’ll have had my entire life. Unfortunately, not all of them are informed enough to know about birth control, safer sex, consent, queerness and the countless other complex issues that go along with gettin’ some.
Oh, right, they’re not mature enough the Moralists will say. They won’t be able to handle the pressures, the emotions and those issues. To this, I agree. There are some youth who cannot handle these issues. But I’d bet a blowjob that any of those kids who don’t handle sexual feelings and situations well will be much more likely to learn, grow and overcome their troubles if they are given the proper tools to deal with what they are, inevitably, going to go through at some point.
But let’s take it back a bit. Let’s give the parents the benefit of the doubt that they have fantastic intentions and will teach their kids in a responsible and considerate manner. It could happen and parents definitely should not be relying on schools to teach their kids everything about sex. Family morality can play a role in a comprehensive education because it will necessarily play a role in the kids’ lives. Blending and working in religion and faith will make for well-rounded and more educated children. Whether that youth still maintains that faith after learning about sex in both school and home…well, that’s something the individual decides.
Remember as well, home-based sex education will be limited. I have significant doubt that any parent is going to train and become as knowledgeable about sexual matters as the professionals school boards will employ. This isn’t necessarily a knock on the parents, they may try their best. But nothing will beat the solid and unbiased information kids would get from a trained teacher. A teacher who has ready access to research and information.
Think back to your own sex life over the years, and consider what you’ve heard from friends. How many times have you thought “I wish someone had told me that” or “I had no idea what I was doing!” Think about awkward situations that could have been avoided or potential scenes that could have been even better had you an idea about what you were getting into. Think about prejudices that could have been dispelled a long time ago and preconceived notions that could have been squashed.
I have two daughters. When they learn anything, I applaud them. Given their current ages, sex comes up. It is everywhere and inevitable. We visited a zoo once, years ago and saw two giant tortoises humping away. Other children were asking their parents what the animals were doing and none of the parents said ‘having sex.’ The best answer I heard was “playing leapfrog.” One of my girls looked at me and said “They’re mating, right?”
I was proud of her for recognizing this and being confident enough to share it. I was also proud as a parent for having taught her that sex isn’t a game. Sure, by all means, play fun games with sex, but when it comes to my kids’ sexual education, I don’t want any funny business. All kids, mine included, need to learn all of the skills relevant to navigating sex and society. Because if they don’t, they might roll the dice and crap out.