Once again, parents are in an uproar about just how sexy their child's sex ed program should be. In the spring, the New York City Department of Education will begin requiring one semester of sex ed in sixth or seventh grade and another in ninth or tenth grade. The city has proposed some lessons that will give the kids practical information about sex and protection from STDs and pregnancy, but rather than discussing these topics with a licensed educator, some parents would rather have their kids schooled in the ways of love by their idiot friend Cheryl during a sleepover.
Over the weekend, the New York Post relayed some potential assignments listed in workbooks approved by the city's Department of Education. They include:
- High-school students go to stores and jot down condom brands, prices and features such as lubrication.
- Teens research a route from school to a clinic that provides birth control and STD tests, and write down its confidentiality policy.
- Kids ages 11 and 12 sort "risk cards" to rate the safety of various activities, including "intercourse using a condom and an oil-based lubricant,'' mutual masturbation, French kissing, oral sex and anal sex.
- Teens are referred to resources such as Columbia University's Web site Go Ask Alice, which explores topics like "doggie-style" and other positions, "sadomasochistic sex play," phone sex, oral sex with braces, fetishes, porn stars, vibrators and bestiality.
The lessons may also feature role playing on saying no to sex and advice on "negotiating condom use."
The only expert consulted in the article is child and adolescent psychiatrist Miriam Grossman, who argues, "Kids are being told to either abstain or use condoms — that both are responsible, healthy choices," when in reality kids can still pass on STDs and get pregnant while using a condom. Using protection does make it much, much less likely that you'll get pregnant or contract STDS, however she's right that they're not very effective if you don't use them correctly. So clearly, we shouldn't bother teaching kids how they work. Though the paper doesn't make this clear, Grossman has made a career of bashing current sex education programs for being too PC. She also runs a website that tells college women that even having protected sex will leave them depressed, disease riddled, and knocked up.
Yesterday, similarly hysterical members of the group NYC Parents' Choice Coalition held a press conference to discuss their concerns about the new plan. Group member Sylvia Laughlin said:
"I know that as my grandchildren, I want them to be able to know that abstinence is an option ... It's something they have a right to choose."
Yes, it's totally unacceptable that students aren't being told they can choose to remain abstinent ... though, that's exactly what NYC schools plan to teach. Department of Education Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott issued a response to the group, saying,
"Abstinence is a very important part of the curriculum ... But we also have a responsibility to ensure that teenagers who are choosing to have sex understand the potential consequences of their actions."
Yet, the NYC Parents' Choice Coalition is still calling for parents to pull their kids from sex ed classes and push to have the curriculum replaces with a program that puts more emphasis on abstinence.
The group's objection would be more understandable if they focused on Columbia University's Go Ask Alice website. Though it's hard to tell what context the site was mentioned in from the Post's description, the goal was probably to send kids to a site that contains factual information so they won't direct questions about the possibility of their fetus getting pregnant to the folks at Yahoo! Answers. Presumably lessons won't focus on Go Ask Alice's discussions on foot fetishes and "S/M roleplaying," but the site may provide a sex education that's more advanced than 15-year-olds need. In all liklihood, today's teens know what those terms mean and have seen them performed on the internet, but that's too much information for parents.
Most parents don't want to think about their child's familiarity with hardcore porn at any age, but they don't have the luxury of sticking their heads in the sand about basic sex ed. They need to accept that their kids are going to have sex at some point and they'll need to know how to use contraception effectively. If parents need to believe their kids will only use this information on the wedding night when they're 31, so be it. However, implementing an abstinence-only program is a much quicker route to depression, disease, and pregnancy than telling kids to use a condom if they have sex.
Image via max777/Shutterstock.