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