When I think back about the Sex Education that I received in grade school, I vaguely remember giggling while labeling fallopian tubes and testicles and penises on endless photocopied sheets.
I remember in grade six, a nurse taught us instead of our teacher. One lesson was about Toxic Shock Syndrome and it horrified my eleven year old self to the point that it turned me off tampons for life.
As a nineties kid, if I had any questions about sex, it’s not like I could just hop on my computer and ask Google. Most of what I learned about sex was from deep conversations with my friends behind the portables at recess. This is probably why I thought that oral sex was the act of “talking about doing it” until grade eight.
In grade nine sex ed, I remember having to watch a video of a woman giving birth. Upon it’s completion I vowed to never have children. That same year, our female gym teacher showed us her used IUD, passed out expired condoms and revealed that she used spermicidal jelly as both contraception and hand cream.
There’s been a lot of talk about sex ed this week in the Canadian media as the province of Ontario has just updated their sex ed curriculum for the first time since 1998. Starting in September 2015, this new curriculum will be taught in all Ontario schools.
If you have a lot of time on your hands, feel free to peruse the new curriculum for grades 1-8 here;
Grades 9-12 can be found here;
If you would like a quicker overview of what will be taught grade by grade, The Toronto Star published a helpful article here;
After perusing the curriculum, reading several opinion pieces online, chatting with other parents and having a deep conversation with my best friend who happens to be a grade seven teacher, I have come to the conclusion that I totally support the new sex ed.
And here’s why…
1. Kids are stupid. In 1998 there was no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. There was barely any internet. If you went to a party and did something stupid, like I did many times, the worst thing you’d have to deal with were some bad hangovers and being the target of relentless teasing by your friends. There was no permanent photographic evidence that ended up on the world wide web for anyone and everyone to scrutinize. Part of the new sex ed curriculum is teaching kids as early as grade seven the dangers of “sexting”. I think this is an extremely important addition. In a perfect world, twelve year old kids wouldn’t have cell phones or tablets or Facebook pages. But this is not a perfect world. Kids have very easy access to very grown up things. I don’t want to be the kind of parent that insists that just because my child doesn’t have a cell phone that he doesn’t know what it means to “sext” someone. I don’t want to be the kind of parent that thinks that my child would never look up porn on the internet. Kids are as naturally curious as they are stupid. They really don’t understand that whatever they put online stays there forever, whether it be a nudie pic, a rude comment or an offensive joke. As parents, we need to have conversations at home about the impact of their online footprint. Having these conversations in the classroom will help arm our children with even more knowledge, and the more knowledge they have, the more prepared they’ll be to make wise online choices.
2. It’s not 1950. In the new sex ed curriculum, children in grade three will learn about same-sex relationships. What do I think about this? IT’S ABOUT FREAK’N TIME. I’ve read some pretty disgusting online comments by parents who are downright outraged that their precious little angels will be learning about homosexuality. What’s the big deal? Are these parents living in the 1950’s? Here’s the thing, the more we talk openly about the different kids of relationships, the more “normal” it will become to have two moms or two dads or two moms and three dads or one mom with six cats and a llama. Families come in all forms. One is not better than the other. This is something that our children need to be taught. Why? Because this is how homophobia ends.**** NFred drops imaginary microphone.
3. Let’s talk about sex, baby. When my oldest son was about five, he asked me constantly how a baby got inside a mom’s belly. He would ask me at the park, the grocery store, at family gatherings. My standard answer was, “a daddy puts a baby in a mommy’s tummy with love.” I knew he wasn’t buying the explanation of a magical love baby because he continued to ask. One night when he was getting ready for a bath, he asked me again. I took a deep breath and told him the whole penis in vagina truth. When I was done, he silently got in the bath, looked at me and said, “I always thought that a mom ate a baby and that’s how it got in her belly.” As a parent, my first sex chat with my child was pretty awkward. Over the years, it’s gotten much easier. I’ve ditched the magical love baby stories and have answered all of their questions in an honest and age appropriate manor. This is exactly what the new sex ed curriculum aims to do. The more safe spaces we provide for our children to talk about sex, the better equipped they’ll be to make the right choices in the real world. And if we show our kids that sex isn’t a taboo topic, the more likely it will be that they will grown into confident, body positive young adults. And who wouldn’t want that for their kid?
Thanks for reading Sex Ed with NFred. What are your opinions on the new curriculum? I’d love to hear them!
In closing, please enjoy this classic Salt N Pepa Jam. It’s been in my head all week!!!
Until we meet again,