Who here can tell me what a Bartholin’s gland is? Anyone? How about a perineum? Perhaps one of you knows what to call the lining of the uterus or can tell the difference between cervical fluid and the lubrication of sexual arousal. If you can, than you’re mother or aunt or maybe even your middle school health class did right by you. As for myself, I didn’t know the answer to any of these questions until I began to study for this paper. At 22 years old it is disconcerting to realize that there are so many essentials I had no idea about. It is sad that I had to learn these things not from someone I knew and trusted, but from a book in the Teen Literature section of my public library.
Many would say that in today’s sex-sells’ society where Paris Hilton didn’t make it big till her night vision tape aired on the internet, our children know far too much about sex already. I agree, but is this the right way for our youth to learn about the natural responses of their bodies? Should their body image be built on how much Lindsey Lohan weighs?
We have all heard the phrase curiosity killed the cat. It is my belief that in this case curiosity gave the cat STD, an unwanted pregnancy, and an unwarranted sense of shame. The goal of this paper is to convince you that a well informed mind is far less likely to make the mistakes of an ignorant one especially when regarding sexual choices. It must be kept in mind that when I speak of sex education, I am not speaking strictly of intercourse. Physical and mental health are also a necessity, as well as an understand of the opposite sex and how their bodies are growing and changing through this confusing time.
Whether we like it our not, the modern teenager is much more exposed to sex than previous generations. That leaves us, the parents, with two prospective paths. One: we shelter them from everything, leaving our kids ill prepared for the day the rejoin mainstream society and vastly under education for the eventuality of intercourse. Or two: we give them the tools to survive and even thrive in a world where sex is over complicated and love in undervalued. The steps needed to help ensure this must be planned carefully,
with emphasis on parental involvement and dispelling popular myths.
I believe that the sexual education of our children should occur around grade seven, or at approximately 12-13 years old. It could easily be included as part of a general health class, but I personally feel that a brief overview as would likely be provided in this hastened class would not be enough to encompass everything the students need to know.
At least, Sex Education should be an entire course grade, optional but not mandatory and requiring signed parental consent to attend. This would mean that the course should continue just as a normal class instead of being limited to a mere chapter in the book or six weeks of cramming. This would mean that the course should continue just as a normal class instead of being limited to a mere chapter in the book or six weeks of cramming. Study during the first fourth of the course would consist of the basics: personal hygiene, body changes, menstruation and/or spermatogenesis and emotional health.
The second part of the course would consist of sexual intelligence, teaching students about reproduction, intercourse, behavior, contraception and abstinence. The
third would discuss what can be done when the worst has happened. Some of the hard issues such as rape, drug and alcohol abuse, unwanted pregnancy, STDs, HIV, partner abuse and resisting peer pressure would be discussed. And finally the fourth would leave the floor open for discussion between students and teachers, as well as multiple invites for the parents to come into the class room and get involved with the personal and sometimes difficult explanations of human sexuality. This would include dispelling myths and speaking frankly on LGBT rights, manual sex and oral.
Now I admit this plan sounds very nice a neat and logical under ideal circumstances. However, recognition must be given to the diversity of culture, race and religion within our school systems. Some would find the open discussion of sexuality outside of the marriage bed to be downright offensive. This must be respected as parental agreement is key to such a class’s survival on the curriculum. Inception of the program would start out with finding a qualified teacher who is comfortable in such an unusual classroom setting, passionate about the subject, and dedicated to the betterment of student health. A tentative presentation would be made before the school
board, and if approved, brought before the PTA as a discussion group to see if the parents agree or disagree with the subject matter. The general plans approved and supported by the school board should be kept, but the teacher and school should remain open to new ideas or slight changes which may improve the understanding of the students. As stated, parents should be mailed a consent form prior to the start of the school year explaining the installation of a new course that is optional for students aged 12-13 or attending the seventh grade. Once again, parental knowledge is just as important as the students. They need to know what they are signing their children up for.
On the first day of class, a pledge would be drawn out between the students and the teacher. A promise from her/him to them to approach the subject in a direct and educational manner. An open door policy would be affirmed, allowing for students to speak freely without fearing judgment or punishment. The teacher could offer candid advice, but also strongly suggest that the student speak with their parents or guardian about the matter for a more applicable point of view. This policy would also be made open to the parents, who could visit in at any time to check up on their child’s over all health. While the non-disclosure agreement is essential to maintaining the child’s trust, the teacher could of course strongly suggest that the parent speak to their child privately should something be wrong. This is advisable at any rate, and could only improve communication between parents and children. From then on it is at the parent’s discretion as to what is to be done. By the end of class, the student should have a more rounded and knowledgeable opinion regarding their body and sexual choices for the future. A sense of personal responsibility should become inherit, giving them the willpower to say no and to protect themselves and others should they choose to say yes and finally the courage to tell someone if something terrible has happened.
The arguments against sex education are many, and must be given their proper due if we are to understand the reasoning behind the necessity. One of the more predominate arguments is that sex education liberates the mind from social control, or a sense of what society views as right and wrong. This argument is partially valid, as societies current state views much of sexuality as sinful or at best lewd and distasteful. But suppose society was given the information to regard sex in a more pure form, as a natural
and perhaps sacred act? Instead of social stigma, we could claim social awareness and responsibility for our actions especially when regarding the rights of others. Another claim is that sexual education leads to a break down of morality and promotes promiscuity. To that I answer that if sex is viewed as sacred, then is it not worthy of more respect and care than to be aimlessly thrown about in encounter after encounter. If we could view our own bodies as personal temples rather than intrinsically flawed, we might be prompted to take better care of them and reserve their gifts for a loved companion.
One strong argument is that it is not the responsibility of the schools to teach children about sex, but that of the parents. That sex education is actually state interference into what should be a privately discussed matter between parent and child. This is also quite true, but some parents find the subject difficult to brooch. Some are even embarrassed to try and talk about something this intimate with their kids or find themselves lacking sufficient information to impart. A properly installed sex education class is not a requirement but an invitation. A child could be withdrawn from the course at
any time should the parent find the material far too objectionable with out effecting the child’s grade.
A currently popular disagreement has to do with the regarding of homosexuality as normal. As the issue has yet to be scientifically proven to much of the U.S. satisfaction and remains a source of great controversy within the legal system, I find only this to say. Regardless of gender identity or sexual identity, the
reality is all too clear. Gays, lesbians and transgender persons are an irremovable part of today’s society and are likely to remain so. While avocation for homosexual intercourse will be the same as that for heterosexual intercourse (abstinence, fidelity and protection), tolerance and acceptance should be the main focus of homosexual discussion within a school supervised sex education class.
Sex is always a tricky topic and this is no exception. Approaching this in an academic and yet honest manner can help with the awkward transition from child to young adult and hopefully prompt these soon to be teenagers to make better judgments. Shining a positive light on what has until recently been a dark and discourages subject may well improve the quality of human life and the nature in which we regard ourselves and others.