No sex ed for you, kiddo!

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It was with some dismay that I read this article yesterday about sex ed in Ontario, Canada. The premier (read: equivalent of governor) of Ontario has decided not to approve a new sex education curriculum for public schools in that province (Canada's largest, population-wise). Although he had previously supported the curriculum, Premier McGuinty has changed his tune, probably because there has been a lot of protesting against this new curriculum.

Why?

The proposed curriculum would include, quote:

Grade 1 children were to be taught to identify genitalia using the correct words, such as penis, vagina and testicle.

In Grade 5, children were to be taught to identify parts of the reproductive system and describe how the body changes during puberty.

In Grade 7, the plan was to teach kids how to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Various groups are protesting that this is "unconscionable" to teach children these things at such a tender age, that this would corrupt innocent young people, that this would give them ideas, etc. Admittedly, I haven't read the proposed changes, but apparently the language is a big stumbling block for a lot of people -- it's supposed to be very frank and open. 

Anyway, after thinking about Stockton's idea of socially-enforced "delay" in children, I read this and pondered the responsibility of government and the school system in this situation. Should sex education be left up to parents? How much should the schools be teaching children, and at what age? Who decides this? Should parents be allowed to pull their kids out of sex ed, maybe? That's what happened in my school -- enough parents protested, so we didn't get any sex ed at all. (Note: I'm not supporting this course of action...) Anyway, it caught my eye.

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Unfortunatly, this isn't too surprsing (although maybe it is for Canada, not sure). I think it's really strange/interesting that changes in puberty are lumped in with sex ed--that it's considered scadelous. You're going to grow hair under your armpit and will smell more--shocking! This information will certainly lead you to have random, excessive sex! The thing is, if kids don't know this, and if they don't get it from their parents (which I imagine is an important possibility), then they might freak out about what's going on. This is the kind of situations that leads to all kinds of wrong information: classmates telling them that their changing voice is one step to losing their voice, etc.

The question of parents vs the school is tough. I would imagine that some schools would teach too liberally for some, and too conservativly for others. This isn't to say that the schools shouldn't teach it, they should. I think that parents just need to get involed, really involved, not just with superficial protests. They should learn what the cirriculum is, and there should be an open, intelligent debate about it. Of course, then, what do you do with the kids whose parents aren't involved at all...

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