Brett.Ullman

Christians are not against sex education!

Over the past month I have seen a steady stream of Facebook posts talking about the new Sex Education Curriculum that is being talked about for Ontario students. I scanned through my Facebook newsfeed over this past week and here are some of the themes and comments I saw:

  1. Overreaction. Tons of threats to pull their kids out of Ontario schools and either homeschool or send their kids to private schools. Also numerous threats to have their kids be “sick” on those days when sex is going to be talked about.
  2. I saw sensationalism and panic over miss-information. One mom talked about being sick that she thought her “Grade 3 daughter was going to be taught how to use a condom”. Another person was angry that she thought her Grade 2 was “going to be shown how to give oral sex”.
  3. I read a ton of condescending comments about teachers and other parents in Public School who do not come from the same Christian Worldview as the person who was telling their opinion.
  4. Shame (on parents who send their kids to sex education at public school) seemed to be a themes as well. Also a miss-guided view on all the other parents (not Christians) in public school that they all are want this “anything goes” sort of sex education. There are lots of GREAT parents that I know at my kids school who do not subscribe to the same Christian worldview that I do but are great parents and are walking through these tough topics just like parents who are Christians.

From what I read I would say that Christians are against ALL aspects of sex education. Out of the hundreds of comments I read there were only 5 that talked about not just being against all sex education but giving ideas or further discussion on how to talk about the topic of sex with our kids.

Lets look at this deeper …

A foundational comment was written by Eric and Leslie Ludy in their book Teaching True Love to a Sex-at-13 Generation

Innocence is a naiveté 
of the world and its ways. 
It’s an ignorance of immorality and the effects of sin upon a 
human life. Purity is something much different. Purity is the 
flexing of a moral muscle within a human soul, a moment-by-moment choice to walk a path of integrity amid a world polluted with sin. Innocence is a state of being. 
But purity is a choice, a step of obedience, a decision of the will.

Every parent must protect a child’s innocence as long as it is necessary, but parents must be ready to let the innocence melt away at the appropriate time, so that purity can take over and rule the soul.

Innocence is for a season, not for a lifetime. There comes a time in every child’s life when he is ready to take more of the weight of personal moral responsibility upon his own shoulders. He is ready to understand this world we live in, to be in it but not of it. He is ready to embark upon a life of purity.

From what I see many Christian parents are holding onto innocence for far to long and not even beginning the conversations on purity until well in the 4 high school years. I have been asking students for years if their parents talk about sex with them and the majority say no or if they did talk about sex with them it was a short 5 minute conversation.

I see this as I travel and speak. I polled 1000 students and asked what topics they would like to hear in church. The top 2 were sex and mental health. I created a talk on sex called The.Sex.Talk (for High School and Young Adults) but what is frustrating is how many parents keep their kids home from youth group or private Christian Schools when I come in to talk on these topics. Many parents tell me that this is a topic only for the home.  Part of that I agree with. I would say that the main discussion on sex education should come from us as parents. The problem is that kids say it is not happening in the home.

With all the condemnation against the sex ed curriculum I would also challenge parents to actually read it. Here are a few paragraphs for you from the Grade 8 expectations:

“Growth and development education is more than simply teaching young people about the anatomy and physiology of reproduction. For example, growth and development education focuses on an understanding of sexuality in its broadest context – sexual development, reproductive health, interpersonal relationships, affection, abstinence, body image, and gender roles. Acquiring information and skills and developing attitudes, beliefs, and values related to identity and relationships are lifelong processes.”

“Parents and guardians are the primary educators of their children. As children grow and develop relationships with family members and others, they learn about appropriate behaviours and values, as well as about sexuality. They are influenced by parents, friends, relatives, religious leaders, teachers, and neighbours, as well as by television, radio, videos, movies, books, advertisements, music, and newspapers. School-based programs add another important dimension to a child’s ongoing learning about sexuality.”

http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/healthcurr18.pdf

In one short blog I cannot comment on everything on this discussion on sex education. Here are some quick thoughts on this:

  1. There is no such thing as the sex talk. If you think that all you need to do is to have a 5 minute talk to your kids about body parts and sex I would put forth you are failing in this area as a parent. Sex is a conversation that starts when you kids are as young as 3-4 when they are asking about different names or body parts and is an ongoing conversation as your kids walk through the tough adolescent years. This is also not a conversation on the mechanics of sex but more a philosophy or mindset about sexuality.
  2. As opposed to getting our back up maybe our conversations should be about when is the appropriate time to talk about these things and what is the best way to teach these topics (not if we talk to our kids about sex).  We must acknowledge that we are living in a different culture and things do need to be taught earlier then when we grew up. With students dating at earlier ages, conversations on sex need to be intentional to give kids the knowledge to make good decisions. If we don’t speak on this and they start dating they will be left to make decisions with no information. Remember knowledge does not change behaviour. It gives students the power to make decisions.
  3. I fully understand that as a parent you might be scared to talk about this topic. Many of you never had any discussions with your parents on this and you have no idea where to start. Maybe you need to get some counsel or read books on how to walk through this conversation with our kids.  Being scared is not an excuse. Your children need you to rise above this.
  4. We as parents are the front line for this conversation. Teachers and pastors are just assets to us as we teach our kids about the concepts and practical conversations on sex. It is up to us. How dare we come down hard on the schools and churches for what they are doing when many of us are not doing anything.
  5. Sex education at a Public school is a great opportunity to force you into having these tough conversations with your students. Ask your kids teachers for what they will be teaching on this. Please be careful how you ask for this material. You are asking so you can also be teaching these things at home not because you are against sex education.
  6. If you are going to sign a petition against the new curriculum PLEASE make sure that the organization against the new curriculum is asking for a place at the table to help create a great sex education for our kids and not just an organization that is trying to stop it (and will then not talk about sex education again until the next curriculum is brought out).
  7. If you do NOT talk about sex with your kids they WILL learn it from kids in the school yard (in elementary school) and from modern pop culture. You do not want your kids thinking that songs from Beyonce, Jay Z, Maroon 5, Nicki Minaj and others are the acceptable way that sex should be expressed.
  8. For some parents I would put forth that you are doing fear based parenting. It might be a great time to take a few minutes and try and find out where this fear is coming from? Is it your past? Lack of sexual education in your own life? Anxiety and worry? Some great information on Parenting styles here (http://gracebasedparenting.com/atmosphere-of-grace/for-participants/page/session-2-what-kind-of-parent-are-you/)

These 8 points are just conversation starters. There are many more discussions that need to happen to promote health sexuality from a Christian worldview.

Added Feb 18, 2015 **

On my Social Media feeds this past few weeks has been a huge number of people sharing around a clip of Kathleen Wynne talking about how she wants to teach our kids to have sex in Grade 1 by talking about consent. As I mentioned in my blog above there is a huge outcry for something that seems to be more sensationalism and panic from our Christian Community.

1. Here is an article called  “We want to talk about sex’: Grade 8 girls push for Ontario sex-ed reforms to include the concept of consent” that goes through the original article with some Q & A. The 2 13 year old girls in the article do the Q & A and have some great thoughts.

Tessa and Lia have been following the pushback, and give it an eye roll. Consent is about basic human respect, they say, a concept that can definitely be taught in Grade 1

2. My friend Brian Pengelly wrote a facebook post addressing this. I think it is well said

 “This article enrages me. Why does McVety continue to be turned to as a reliable voice on these things in Christian circles? So it is suggested that in the new curriculum grade one students should be taught how to read facial and body language cues so they know when they are doing things to people that they do not like. McVety (and apparently PC politicians) translate this into “Wynn wants to teach our kids to say yes to sex as children”. The author of the article and McVety both misunderstand consent laws (You must be 16 to consent to having sex with an adult. You may legally have sex with someone who is also a minor starting as young as 12. But the point of teaching consent is not to teach people to say yes to sex, but to teach people that they have the right to say no and that others must listen when they say no. It is about teaching that silence is not yes, and that coercing someone to say yes is always wrong. This should not be controversial to any Christian.”

Love to hear peoples thoughts on how we can help teach our kids about this tough topic.

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brett ullman

Brett Ullman travels North America speaking to teens, young adults, leaders and parents on topics including sexuality, mental health, men, dating and media. Brett's seminars engage and challenge attendees to try and connect our ancient faith with our modern culture we live in. Participants are inspired to reflect on what we know, what we believe and how our faith ought to serve as the lens through which we view and engage tough conversations in our society today.

19 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Brett, as a youth pastor & parent, I am so thankful for your desire to see parents engage this conversation and not run from it in fear. I think there is a need for Christians to engage in the messy areas of life and seek to bring the Redemption Jesus promises into hard conversations.
    And remember friends, sex was God’s idea … let’s not be scared of it!

  • I see the same fear in my Facebook feeds, and your article does a great job addressing what parents can be for (healthy sexuality) rather than against (fear and misinformation).

  • We live in Guelph so Liz Sandals is our MPP. I’ve emailed her to ask that “sex education” efforts be directed towards parents rather than students. Parents need to be talking about this at home, and they need to make it an open and ongoing discussion BEFORE their children have heard about it anywhere else (which means Wynne’s timeline is too late, not too early). In my opinion, “Parents As First Educators” means we have to be pro-active — like you said, not simply preventing our kids from hearing things… planning and delivering what they do hear.

    The quote from Eric & Leslie is great. It is hard to accept that children must lose their innocence so early these days, but purity is, ultimately, something greater still.

    Thanks for this, Brett!

  • Hey Brett,

    Just came across this FANTASTIC post.

    One thing I’ll chime in on about the new curriculum – there is a lot of concern that it will promote “blank slate” sexuality; meaning, the curriculum suggests that people discover their sexual identity. For me as a Christian, this is my main point of tension as I am not convinced that we are are blank slates, sexually.

    But I always say to parents, if you have a big problem with it, you do have other options: homeschool or Christian school.

  • Thank you for expressing this. Especially the description of innocence and purity. I would like to add, it is important as a parent to understand your own sexuality before you can talk to your kids about it. If for whatever reason you don’t understand it and have many questions yourself it becomes a taboo or at the very least a hard topic to talk about. Unfortunately, I think that this is happening in many homes and possibly a reason why parents are so upset about the proposed curriculum. In general, children will say talking about sex is embarrassing, but they will also admit that it is good to know so they are prepared to take a stance. With the support of parents they are more likely to develop a healthy view on sex, so they can experience it the way God has intended it.

  • Hey Brett. My wife and I are on opposites sides of the sex ed argument that has ensued around the new curriculum coming into Ontario. My wife is against it. I don’t care for some of the wording that is included, and I don’t like the idea of my child being exposed to some of the content that will come at such early ages. However, I wish to take a different approach to it.

    I see it being the parents responsibility to teach these things well at home above and beyond whatever is being taught at school. Rather than screaming at the government for doing something we don’t agree with (and I didn’t vote Liberal!), my thought has been that, when my daughter gets to the age where she will be taught this stuff (she’s 2 right now), I want to ask her teacher for the material that will be taught, take it and then see how I can bring it home and re-emphasize it to my daughter but in a Biblical light, teaching her wisdom beyond the facts that the school may teach.

    Ultimately, I think parents, Christian parents specifically, would benefit from someone creating a supplementary teaching handbook to go along with what the Ontario government is teaching in schools. Something that would take the principles used in the curriculum and regurgitate them in light of Biblical teaching. It’s something I would like to do, but as I peruse your website, you would seem to be in a very good position to write something like this.

    What do you think? My good friends Matt Janes and Jon Manna would seem to agree on your knowledge capacity. Is it worthwhile?

    • Hi Trevor, Thanks for your comment. I do think it would quite worthwhile. After my blog has over 6000 views in the last few days it has made me think of how important the conversation on sex is for parents and not just students. I presently have a talk on sex called the.sex.talk. I am spending the next few weeks working through it to create a version for Christian parents.
      I like the idea of a teaching handbook but my concern would be that it is only address some of the points that the sex education curriculum is covering and I think that the conversation on creating a true Christian sexual ethic is larger than just a handbook. I am going to finished redoing the talk for parents. Maybe after that we can talk more and maybe if we still think it isa good idea work on the workbook together

      • Great idea. It would certainly be hard to make something so comprehensive. I’ll try to keep tabs on your updated version, and then continue the conversation.

        Thanks for all you’re doing to promote the subject matter, and keep this lucrative conversation going.

  • I think the main issue with the new sex ed curriculum is “normalizing” sinful (in Christian view) stuff like – homosexualism, oral/anal sex, masturbation, etc. I believe that it’s important for kids and teens to know about those things, but they should be given the right perspective. Schools teach tolerance and acceptance of those behaviors as normal.

  • Any suggestions on resources for parents wanting to plan ahead for these talks.
    My son is still too young for school but as long as finances allow we are hoping to homeschool (more out of concern for our son’s learning style and overall questions with basic curriculum) However, as a mom I definitely feel a lack of experience on how to openly and honestly talk with my boy.

  • Finally, someone talking reasonably about this topic (and the comments posted to date are reasonable, too, unlike so many I’ve seen in so many other places). Thank you!

  • Part of the problem with the sex-ed curriculum is what isn’t in it. It doesn’t talk about sexual predators, or give thorough information on the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases. Young girls do not have a mature cervix and are more susceptible to bacteria and disease than a mature woman. In the real world anal sex with multiple partners is extremely dangerous and can end in a slow death. It doesn’t go into detail about living with aids. It doesn’t talk about abstinence as a method of birth control or as the best way to not become infected with a sexually transmitted disease. Flip to page 17 in the curriculum and you will see the ministry encouraging teachers to include outside “community partners” who will help mentor your children, likely without your knowledge. In Toronto minors have already been given instruction by community partners on how to have safe “dangerous sex”. The curriculum also teaches “gender fluidity” which is not science or factual. Remember this is all being taught to young children not university-aged students who can differentiate between theory and fact. The curriculum isn’t all bad, but parts of it are extremely reckless and bordering on science fiction for the sake of modern political correctness. I don’t agree that the problem is the parents lack of ability in educating their children about sex; I believe that the problem is an incompetent and unjust school system, the silence of parents and some very bad politicians.

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