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Sex Ed changes ARE desperately needed!

I will admit that I often don’t catch news until after it’s over. Prime example is the recent proposed idea to change/update our sex education curriculum for elementary students. I had no idea that the plan was even on the table until I heard that the entire notion was shut down (during an enlightening evening of watching the news on TV and listening to one teacher who was so opposed to this new curriculum that she couldn’t even bother to read it before having an opinion - that screams ignorance). And how un-leader like of the government to just scrap the whole idea when met with resistance - obviously there is a need for the updates – so why back down? (btw... All change meets resistance... That doesn’t mean it’s not needed!!)

Really – children and young adults ARE ALREADY BEING GIVEN THIS INFORMATION. You cannot turn on the TV, watch a music video, movie, commercial, without being bombarded by rigid sex roles, gender expectation, cleavage, sexual innuendos, and just plain old sex on the screen!  Try taking your bus route to school with your eyes  wide open and tell me you don’t see anything that influences a child or teen’s mind regarding sex! Kids see these messages, they are getting the information. But without the proper education, they aren’t receiving a realistic and safe message! Advocates say, "sex education is not introducing young children to sexuality, but simply contextualizing information to which most already have been exposed”.

I understand that grade three may at first seem young to be introducing education about masturbation. However, it is quite normal for children at that age (especially with puberty coming earlier and earlier) to be experimenting, figuring out their bodies and asking questions.  Are we really that archaic that we choose to continue telling kids that if they masturbate they will get hairy palms? Or that it’s DIRTY to explore their bodies? Come on!!

Gender diversity – so many children are being held back from expressing themselves because of rigid gender roles and the fear of discrimination and bullying... And why? Because a boy might like the colour pink? Because some girls actually don’t enjoy tight skinny jeans and would rather a pair of pants that can only be found on the “boys” side of the store”? Education is power, and the only way we will demystify these aspects of life (therefore eliminating bullying and discrimination) is by educating at a young enough age that we can teach a sense of normalcy to these behaviors that we have previously been incorrectly taught that are ‘deviant’ or ‘punishable’.

Families are changing, dating is changing, and will we continue to only support the ideal nuclear heterosexual family within our schools and attitudes? Or will we embrace the rainbow that is life, and start to identify that in reality; very few kids go home after school to a married mom and a dad. So many kids live with caregivers, adopted parents, same sex parents, single parents, transgendered parents or no parents. When will we (again) stop trying to kid ourselves and our children (who see more than you think) and just let go of all our fears and embrace the fact that ‘complex and diverse’ can be painless, beautiful, celebrated, and normalized.

My sister called me up a few weeks ago – she is 13 – sorry Emma – ALMOST 14 and in grade 8.  She was so amazed that she had actually learned something in her health class (since I began my post-secondary ‘career’ in 2001 I have bombarded her growing brain with whatever I was learning.. sleepovers at my house consisted of late night movies and junk food followed by mornings in pj’s talking about violence against women, oppression, gender and sexual diversity, and the truth about sex and masturbation) so she was quite shocked when she was given MORE information (apparently I didn’t visit her enough during my physiology of sex class). Emma had learned about those mysterious innards we like to pretend don’t exist... you know... the human reproductive system - ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, urethra, vas deferens, and scrotum (insert classroom giggles here).

And you know what – here’s the shocker! It didn’t make her hypersexual, she isn’t celebrating by going to a party and having sex with her peers, and she isn’t out there discriminating against everyone who is different than her. She has been armed with knowledge and contrary to popular belief it makes her smarter. She makes her own choices based on real terms, information and choice.  And when we watch movies like Twilight… even though she loved it, we talk about the reality of the abuse in Bella and Edward‘s relationship.  When there’s a movie with breasts and sex galore, we talk about the objectification of women’s bodies and the pressure young boys feel to be ‘manly’ by bragging about their ‘scores’ and talking down about the women in their lives.

Yes kids will experiment (adults experiment too but they are privileged enough to get the truth to inform their choices), yes they will make mistakes... but I think we owe it to the youth to be honest.  What good does it do to lie or sugar coat with nicknames for their body parts? This is not the Easter bunny or Santa Claus... this is real life! Being un-informed doesn’t get kids one less chocolate egg or a lump of coal in their stocking... it gives them unwanted pregnancies, negative sexual experiences, HIV, and herpes.

While we are on the topic of curriculum I would like to challenge the existing history curriculum that children are taught today as well.  I’d like my siblings to have a little more ‘herstory’ in their history classes (insert kudos to the Miss G Project who has been fighting to get a Women’s and Gender Studies Course into the Ontario Secondary School Curriculum). And I will say I am thoroughly impressed when my sister calls me up to tell me that her teacher actually taught her about the suffragist movement and female anti-rape condoms (even though I think she may have taught her teacher a little bit about gender and sexual fluidity in return).   

The bottom line is this. Life changes, people change, we live in a world where youth continue to receive consequences for the actions that they have been ill prepared to make from the start. Let’s stop setting each other up for failure and preparing our youth with the proper information while we still have time!  I hope that sex education curriculum does get an upgrade... NOW. and I think I know exactly the team to do it!

Enter: Wonder Pap, Little Willie, Captain Condom and Power Pap! (*jk, but wouldn’t that be fun!)

Thanks for listening! Let me know what you think.

Also check out these two articles :