In 2016, the state Legislature announced that sex education needed to be taught in grades kindergarten through 12th grade as a matter of health education.
The sound of that might be startling — images of 6-year-olds learning about using condoms. The reality is different, and the reasoning is clear. The more children know about their bodies, what is OK and what is not, the faster adults may be able to stop the cycle of sex abuse in a home or day care facility or church. The more clearly children can communicate about their experiences, the easier it will be for adults to help.
In a recent case regarding an Independence day care facility, one of the victims was able to finally express the sex abuse she’d suffered at the hands of her uncle because of what she learned in her seventh-grade classroom at LaCreole Middle School. Imagine if she’d been armed with that information and language sooner.
In a not-so-recent case, but perhaps happening on a regular basis, a woman in an abusive relationship finds out she’s pregnant because she believed old myths about when she could get pregnant and when she couldn’t. Comprehensive sexual health education can help throughout life.
That said, parents and guardians should not stand idly by and let the curriculum on this matter go uninspected. The class materials are available online (see story on A3) or at the schools and district office. Take the time to know what it is your child will be learning this year about sexual health so that you can decide. Upon review, you can decide how to approach the same topics at home, or if you would rather opt out of having your child sit through one of the courses.
Sex ed can be a divisive topic, but it doesn’t need to be. We believe it’s necessary and trust that our educators do well explaining sexual health, but we wouldn’t want to find out about the course material over the dinner question, “So, what did you learn in school today?”