Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sex Education

I really don't understand the problem with schools teaching sex education. Should they learn about it the old fashioned way --- on the street?

My parents would have liked the schools to teach about sex. My experience with sex education in school was particularly painful. I was listening to my fifth grade teacher explain genetic theory to us, when something came over me. An uncontrollable urge to ask a question. I hadn't had an uncontrollable urge to ask a question since third grade, when I asked on what day God made the dinosaurs. That experience taught me to control my questioning urges. But this day, I raised my hand and said, "I understand how babies get the mommy genes, but how do they get the daddy genes?"

There was complete silence. The teacher glared at me, then started sputtering. The kids begin to snicker. A friend later told me that her mother had given her THE TALK the weekend before. It would appear that many parents had given THE TALK already. My Mom didn't get the memo. Or she sent it back corrected, as she often did.

So, I went home and about a month later, asked Mom the same question. She sputtered a little and said she couldn't tell me then, because my brother & sister were in the room. Another week or so later, my parents gave me a book.

The book was published by the Catholic Church. It was called "Take the High Road." The cover had some sort of colorful seventies thing on it. I took the book and read it. Well, most of it. There was a chapter called "For Boys," which I didn't read since I'm not a boy. Duh. The chapter called "For Girls" had the other internal organs and the egg with big eyelashes. I learned you shouldn't go steady too early and that it's OK to have wet dreams. When Mom asked me what I learned, I said you shouldn't go steady too early. I didn't know what wet dreams were, but I had a feeling Mom wouldn't want to talk about them.

Years later, I discovered (or my brother & sister discovered) that all of my missing information was in the chapter called "For Boys." It had pictures of internal organs and sperm that looked like tadpoles. The tadpole and eye-lashed egg never met.

I learned about sex in the upstairs bathroom with a friend who my mother didn't really like. This friend, later voted "girl most likely to" at her high school, told me what men and women do, then primly informed me that she was going to make her husband do it to her when she was asleep. My reaction was, "Not MY parents." I think that's typical.

So I'm all for sex education in school. I think they do better now than "I am Joe's testicle" (remember those films?). Values related to sex should be taught at home, of course. But parents need to teach all kinds of things at home. The school is supplying knowledge, skills, and training. Families, churches, communities need to help kids decide what to do with all of that stuff.

Sex education in school and at home are not mutually exclusive. Schools don't let parents off the hook, but they can supply teachers who are better equipped to teach.

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