Today, an article from the National Post crossed my path through a friend’s wall on facebook. I have been looking forward to hearing about the new Sex Ed curriculum in Ontario. It was an interesting read. I am actually thrilled that there are major changes coming. I was also super thrilled to see my bestie’s name as one of the parents they interviewed. Sarah is my sister. She is my people. She is also a high school teacher with three beautiful children. I spoke to her this morning after reading the article, and discovered she had said quite a bit on the subject and only a tiny bit was shared. With her permission, I wanted to share her actual responses she sent the reporter in the email interview. Not just to give her the opportunity to share her full response, but also because I agree with many things she says.
(Note: The Interviewer, Sarah Boesveld, will be identified by bold, Sarah Baker, my friend, will be identified by italics)
Now, I have not seen the new curriculum – only what was mentioned in the CBC article, and I can say some of it made me a little wary. I am wary, though, because I don’t want my kids to grow up. I want them to stay innocent and sweet and continue to think that unicorns are real and that all people are good. But the fact of the matter is, the unicorn thing has yet to be proven and some people suck.
All children need to know all of the facts about sex so they are prepared to give consent or to say no. We prepare are children for various things throughout their lives, why not sex? If we hide it, and teach them that it is only discussed behind closed doors, it becomes something dirty and naughty (not in the good way). Do I want my kids to run out at the age of 12 and have sex? Heck no! Do I think teaching them about sex will encourage this? NOPE! I think learning about it will help my children understand it and know that it is special, but that it can be dangerous. I want my kids to be informed so they make informed decisions.
Kids need to know that not all girls like boys, and not all boys like girls, and that this is ok. If we start teaching acceptance early, our children will feel more comfortable with who they are, and they will hopefully celebrate and love themselves regardless of sexual orientation. My children know that their uncle, my step-brother, is gay and that he will someday marry another man. And you know what? They understand and accept without question. When they are in the know, it is not scary. It is simply reality.
Ok – so on to your specific questions (sorry I am so long winded!)
What’s your reaction to what you hear will be taught in school and at what age?
I really think that it is the perfect age to be educated about sex. Kids are smart, they start to ask questions. We shouldn’t hide sex – it is the very reason we have our beautiful children. Do I want to be talking to my kids about it? No. Will I? Yes, but I am happy to know that my kids will have a separate education at school where they can potentially ask questions that they may not be comfortable asking me or their dad. Kids are going to eventually have sex, so why not teach them how to be safe so we can prevent more 13 and 14 year olds from getting pregnant. Let it be a natural part of life and their education. As I said above, if we inform our kids properly they are better equipped to make informed decisions on their own, which is ultimately what we want for our children (or should want).
What kind of sex ed did you get as a child? From both your parents and your school?
I remember sex ed starting in grade 5 and we talked about girls getting their periods. That is pretty much all I remember about it, but I know that we talked about sex “on the school yard”. We knew what sex was, we weren’t stupid, but we didn’t really know much about the logistics, so to speak. We never talked about safe sex. Next up with my high school grade 11 biology class, but that was more the scientific side.
My mom bought me puberty/sex book with some fun cartoons. It answered a lot of questions that I never would have had the guts to ask her when I was 11, but it did let me know that sex is a good thing, but it was important to be safe. I still didn’t have anyone who I could go to with questions. I remember that a lot of the teen magazines also talked about it. And to be honest, that is likely where I learned the most about safe sex.
What do you hope will be taught in school? What do you plan to tell them yourself, if anything?
I hope they teach my kids that sex can be a lot of fun, as long as both parties are willing. I also want them to teach them about the LGBTQ issues that many kids are dealing with. So many kids think there is something wrong with them because they don’t like who they are supposed to like, or they are trans. So many of these issues can lead in to mental health issues. I know I will be open with my kids, and they will know that it is ok to be who they know they are, but it would be nice if the same message was being given at the school level as well.
I also want them to know about safe sex and the proper protection to use. BOTH boys and girls need to know that no mean no, and that it is ok to not be ready to have sex in any form. Sex needs to be normalized within school walls.
I know many parents will not agree with me – they, like myself, have a hard time with their kids growing up. But it is going to happen. Instead of fighting it, we should work with this schools and let our children know that they can ask any questions they want. Give them the information and let them decide what they are going to do with. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for – but maybe that is what parents are scared of?
You mentioned being anxious about answering any questions your kids might bring home about sex – why?
Like I said before – I don’t want my kids to grow up. I want them to stay little and innocent. My eldest still has not asked about sex, and when she asks about where babies come from, I can truthfully tell her that she and her brothers came out of my tummy (I had c-sections), although I have told Annie that some woman have babies come out of their vaginas, and she just shrugged her shoulders and went on colouring. My stomach does flips at the thought of answering the tough sex questions, though, but maybe that is because sex was never normalized for me? Between my mom just giving me a book and never talking to me about it, and the church telling me it was bad, I wonder if that is part of my anxiety? I never had that type of conversation modeled to me, so I question my ability to answer the questions. I know this sounds ridiculous, but as parents we become so protective of our kids that we can be irrational at times. I think discussing sex is hard because it is such an intimate act that is done behind closed doors and never openly discussed in front of children.
I know when my kids ask me the questions, I will answer them, but I will not seek them out to tell them about sex. I know I am not alone in this, so maybe it is good that kids are going to be taught about sex, so they do bring questions home?
Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your interview with me and giving me the opportunity to share it with my readers.
It is my opinion that children are becoming aware of and curious about sex at a very young age. I hope to have an open dialogue with my children about sex, and have already started discussing the very basics with my 3 year old. Teaching our babies and toddlers consent starts with respecting their bodies and giving them the right to refuse physical touch. I want our son (and future other kiddo) to feel comfortable coming to us with questions, concerns and what they are going through.