It’s nice to be able to report something positive these days. I recently learned that my three-year effort advocating to bring comprehensive sex education into my local school district is paying off. Beginning later this year, our 9th graders will receive thorough, accurate, critical information for the first time in this public school system. A small victory perhaps, but one that is incredibly necessary.
I am ecstatic! Without good sex education, where are curious kids seeking information? Their parents? Wishful thinking – but more on that in a moment. The internet? Yes. And you can imagine what pops up when search terms related to sexual health or reproduction are entered into the search bar.
Until now, sex education in my local school district consisted of a single lesson in 5th grade about puberty. It probably isn’t much different from when I was that age. Then in middle school, nothing is taught on this immense subject area. In other words, for three years, during grades 6 through 8, there are no developmentally appropriate sex ed lessons in the classroom. Not one word. Talk about a missed opportunity! The middle school years are PRIME time to reach children and arm them with good, factual information before they engage in risky behaviors. These hungry-for-info-but-embarassed-to-ask pubescents are left to seek information elsewhere. Smart phones, school bus rides, and unrestricted computer access at home provide ample opportunities for some students to get their own education and let’s not forget that these sources are not evidence-based.
I am thrilled that comprehensive sex education will be delivered in 9th grade and I see it as a wonderful first step in the right direction. There is still a great need for age-appropriate lessons to be incorporated into the elementary and middle school curricula. This is where parents are needed. Parents: I know that talking to our kids about the many facets of sex makes us uncomfortable. But please do, in brief doses and regularly. Whether your school district offers comprehensive sex ed or not, nothing is better than ongoing dialogue at home. Don’t know where to start? There are many good resources (some of which I have mentioned in previous posts). Still not sure? Send me a message and let’s talk!