Does your Grade 7 children need to know about anal sex? Do you want their gym teacher to be the one to teach them? Seems this is the hot debate in Ontario's Legislative Assembly and in faith communities as the provincial government announces changes to the province's sex ed curriculum.
The last update to Ontario's sex education curriculum was in 1998. That's almost 20 years ago. Middle-school children didn't have smart phones and social media back then. Snap chat, sexting and Tinder were not part of the landscape. And puberty is starting earlier than ever now -- at age 7 and 8 for some girls.
It's definitely time to update the curriculum. But what should be included? What's appropriate? The curriculum development included input from consultants, educators, parents and students. Some of the highlights are:
1. Grade 3 students will learn about same sex couples and homosexuality;
2. Grade 6 classes will learn about puberty, masturbation and gender identity;
3. Grade 7 students will be taught sexually transmitted diseases (including oral and anal sex).
Our schools are expected to reflect our culture. Gay marriages are legal. If a student has their two moms or two dads dropping them off at school and attending the class concert, why not make sure the language in the textbooks and curriculum reflect the experience of children in an accurate way?
Bullying rates are higher for the LGBTQ students, and recommendations from all anti-bullying programs is to have LGBTQ committees and clubs to help educate others who have prejudice. We know prejudice is taught, so, why not conquer ignorance proactively by discussing gender identity in the early grades? If a school will take disciplinary actions against a student for making personal attacks about a fellow student's sexual identity, have the curriculum reflect understanding and acceptance of difference, too.
My grandmother worked tirelessly in the 50's and 60's to have sex education in our school system in the first place. She and my grandfather taught teen sex education classes together. In their era of teaching, the parents and school boards feared that if students knew about sex, they would become promiscuous.
We have decades of data that shows kids do not become promiscuous or confused when they get sexual education. Quite the opposite. Education increases their safety by having a protective affect on their mental and physical health. Informed students also make better decisions so we see a reduction in disease, prejudice and sexual misconduct.
Right now, our kids are learning about sex from free online porn sites on their phones, from games like Call of Duty and movies like 50 Shades of Grey. If we don't step up as educators and present a better context, our children are in more danger, not less.