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Making the option of S-E-X education a national standard

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UPDATE: Abstinence students still have sex at similar rates, recent study shows
Last week's Teacher Magazine poll on schools' approaches to sex education brought back bittersweet memories. Memories of giggling at fake ovaries and being mortified at all the places that hair could grow.

I learned much of my reproductive education not from my mother, a nurse who taught contraception courses in Taiwan in the early 1980s, but from the Montgomery County Public School system. As icky and super embarrassed as I felt about it in fifth grade, I was secretly relieved to have those weird things happening to my body demystified.

It was equally horrifying to sit through sex and health ed in the eighth and tenth grades, but once again, the frank conversations that the instructors engaged us in were enlightening. It made sex (and STDs) real (and totally, super gross). Although my parents sat my brother and I down separately for in-depth conversations about s-e-x, I never felt quite comfortable asking them whether it was true that Mountain Dew makes men shoot blanks. Luckily those myths, plus some slightly more important wonders of the human body, were debunked by the eighth grade gym teacher. We giggled. But we learned.

Sex and health are private matters. But it should be a national standard for all schools to offer the option of sex and health education. By not doing so, we're asking our children and families to face the risks of reality on their own. Many families don't have the full range of resources. Others are embarrassed by the subject. The least we can do as educators is offer the option of sex and health courses.

Today, my students are the same age I was when the weirdness of the human body (and boys) became real possibilities. I'm young enough to sympathize with them. But I'm old enough to see how much of a disadvantage we're putting them through by not offering sex and health education courses at school.

We don't teach sex or health classes at my school, but it doesn't stop my 13-year-olds from asking me about tattooing or condoms. And it won't stop kids from making out on the playground. And not talking about it will definitely not keep teenagers in inner-cities, rural communities or suburban sprawls from getting pregnant.

As a second-year middle school teacher, I've been around long enough to know that teenagers are still going to ask "inappropriate" questions and they're still going to do what they want to do. What we can do is educate them with the facts necessary to reconsider.

http://www.siecus.org/pubs/fact/fact0007.html

5 Comments

Hmmm... It's interesting that Jessica's posting from two weeks ago received 13 comments. Yet, sex ed received none. This speaks loudly of the discomfort we as educators have with this subject. As a teacher I found it very eye opening to realize that a number of my students were sexually active. Yet when taking a health survey more than half didn't know what AIDS is, despite reports of the rise of HIV/AIDS on the Navajo Nation. The school I worked at did not have a sex ed program, but every year saw high school students and a few middle school students become pregnant. This raises the difficult question of what schools should be telling students? Is it overstepping our boundaries to educate students on this deeply personal level? I'm curious as to what folks out there think.

I'm against sex ed if it might involve an "abstinence-only program." The federal government spent more than $150 million last year for these programs to feature workshops in the public schools. At best, the programs manipulate facts about sexually transmitted diseases and condom use; often they involve bogus statistics such as "pregnancy occurs one out of every seven times that couples use condoms." One of the programs says that premarital sex leads to cancer, depression, meaningless weddings, loss of honesty and embarrassment. These programs rely on fear, shame, and manipulation to control young people’s sexual behavior.

Don't demand sex ed. Demand honest and real sex ed.

Hmmm...If we promote sex ed,did you think its better for the generations now?For me,everything has a disadvantages...Maybe they can test about what they have known in sex ed in reality cause they thought they can't be pregnant if they used different methods.

We need to talk about puberty before kids hit it (I hit in 5th grade). Honestly though, parents should probably take the lead and teach the kid what they want them to know instead of relying on the schools to since each parent has a different perception of what sex ed should look like. the school can only do so much and provide resources for the rest, such as where to get condoms.

I wish Charlie all the best. Two and a half men really brought me lots of laughters, and it would be very sad to see the show finishing like this.

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  • Hillary Krajcer: I wish Charlie all the best. Two and a half read more
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  • abigail m. gonzales: Hmmm...If we promote sex ed,did you think its better for read more
  • Ari Vlanton: I'm against sex ed if it might involve an "abstinence-only read more
  • Rachel Meiklejohn: Hmmm... It's interesting that Jessica's posting from two weeks ago read more

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