Hold on. You’re telling me that parents want to ban sex ed programs that promote sexual health… because they’re age inappropriate? What do parents think we learn? Sex positions? How to get a girl off in ten seconds?
My faith in humanity dwindles every time I hear news like this.
According to Mercury News, parents in California’s Cupertino Union School District are offended and angered at the new sex ed curriculum for students. Why? Apparently, seventh graders shouldn’t be exposed to accurate descriptions of anal, vaginal and oral sex.
At least 150 parents attended a school board meeting regarding the subject and almost 4,500 people signed a petition to reject the new sex ed program. Parents claim the program is “age inappropriate” and that the curriculum is “designed to increase curiosity on different sexual behaviors for immature minds.”
I don’t know about you, but by the time I was in seventh grade I was more mature than current college students. Muni Madhdhipatla, one of the many district parents, offered his two cents and suggested that students could “opt out” of lessons they didn’t want to hear.
“Age appropriate is very important,” he said. “Is there data that supports this curriculum is needed at the seventh grade in CUSD? You need to take context into the mix. Kids mature physically and mentally at different age levels. You are bombarding them with information that they are not ready for.”
How do you know they’re not ready? When I become a parent, will I magically know when my child should learn string theory?
Chitra Panjabi, president and CEO of Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, understood the parents’ concerns and told Broadly that it’s true that parents should be involved in their children’s sexual education. However, she also believed that the descriptions in the course curriculum were more factual than suggestive and that knowledge is important for making informed decisions about their sexual health.
The new sex ed program was formed in response to the 2016 California Healthy Youth Act. It required schools to provide “integrated, accurate and unbiased comprehensive sexual health and HIV prevention education at least once in middle school and once in high school.”
In addition to this Youth Act, schools are also required to update the curriculum to include information on same-sex and unique sexual orientation. It’s about time. Sex ed programs haven’t changed much since 2003, which a teacher described as very “heterosexual-oriented.” Despite parents protesting the idea, experts and educators agree that rejecting the changes to the program would cause more harm than good to the students. Perhaps this is the spark that can help spread more sexual awareness across the United States.
Barbara Wooley, an educator from Cupertino Union School District and a member of the Human Growth and Development Task Force, told Mercury News:
You cannot teach somebody how to not contract HIV or any other STI (sexually transmitted infection) without telling them how one contracts an STI. You don’t get your vaccination after you’ve been exposed to a disease. We hope with every fiber of our being that our seventh-graders are not sexually active but we also know in reality, it’s going to come to a point where they need to know this information.
Despite educators and students knowing that education and awareness are the best deterrents for future sexual deviance or danger, the vote for keeping the curriculum still came down to a 2-2 vote. The curriculum won’t be canceled, but the board will have to assemble another program to meet both state law standards and District approval. Then the process will start all over again.
Abstinence isn’t always the best way to teach sex ed. Sexual education is more than learning the science behind a vagina and what an STI is. It’s about how they work and how we contract diseases. Knowing how is the first step in prevention. In this day and age, we’re becoming more empowered about our bodies and freer with our voices.
Parents: They won’t always be a little kid. You can’t shield them from everything. So prepare them instead.