Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Education and health

Where do (should) we draw the line between the realm of public education and home (parental) education? The past will always return and often with no new change. On the Intersection today I listened to the panelists discuss the fate of Montgomery County MD's sex-ed curriculum. The article Sex-Ed Plan could revive heated debate from 2005 by Daniel de Vise (Washington Post Friday, January 5, 2007; Page B04) is a good point of reference for those unfamiliar with the topic.

Why is there such a freak out over sex-ed? Parents that claim this topic is to be strictly bound to an at home education environment are misguided and being irresponsible. Are parents that absolutely out of touch with their children that they actually think their children have no idea about sex? The argument that if you mention S-E-X then kids will actually do it is ridiculous. Because like it or not humans (we are animals people) have sex, we're programmed to have sex, pro-create what ever. And come hormonal surge or high water teens are going to be interested in sex. I pretty much knew enough about sex by the time I was 11, thanks HBO. So with today's TV programming I'm sure most kids know too, and those who do not watch such programs at home, well, I'm sorry to point this out, but as I learned at 11, there will always be kids that will graphically fill in the details to anyone. So yes, I shockingly received my sex-ed from my peers and TV. Since sex-ed in my school system was not discussed until 8th grade, incredibly late, and my parents were not bringing it up, there were too many questions in my head. To prevent my complete confusion and further embarrassment I began my own research. I went to the library and read health books and learned the basics about STDs and other consequences of sex. But not all kids are that proactive. And most will never talk to their parents. Even more reason to cover sex-ed.

The string of callers adding their points began to sadden me. I was struck by the incredible negativity, rather hatred, of the homosexuality topic. I was baffled how this particular group of humans continue to be branded as terrible, inhuman, not right, unGodly, or whatever. Whoa, I mean, easy there killer. Put the pitchfork down. Do you really think that by discussing homosexuality in sex-ed that it will cause people to be that influenced to do it too? Really, is talking about homosexuality going to produce little lesbians and gays out of your children? Is that the big fear? I appreciated the comment from one caller/emailer who mentioned that Cheney has a lesbian daughter and doubts that she learned this behavior at school and really doubts from home. It happened. So cope, right?

My point is that we teach students about all sorts of things. I believe in history class warfare is a topic covered quite well and I just don't see little armies popping up to carry out the "educational influence” of conquering nations or in their case neighborhoods. Seriously, the basic knowledge of high school level chemistry or physics is so much more dangerous than any topic covered in sex ed classes. With basic understanding of physical and chemical reactions anyone with malicious intent can do very dangerous things. Yet we brush it off as education.

Pretending that you will be the one to educate your child on your family's values does not entitle you to the lack of information you will inevitably provide. Because I seriously doubt that the average "keep sex-ed at home" parent is going to take initiative and do research and provide factual un-selective information to their children. (You know, the kind that involves using a library, or a credible health database like something from the NIH.) Most likely it will be propaganda and preferences. That is not being a good educator and hey, when you become a parent you instantly become an educator. So don that cap and get ready because like it or not your curriculum will cover sex-ed. So I ask, will you be ready?

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