An article in today’s New York Times online newspaper fascinated me.
We’ve all heard the recent campaigns for sexual consent and the fight against rape culture, specifically the phrase, No Means No. This article emphasizes the recent flip in words, Yes Means Yes, which still (ironically) mirrors the other campaign’s intent.
I noticed in the quotes from students in the article that talking about sex altogether was uncomfortable, awkward. Scrolling a few more lines and I notice the ages of these students – fifteen. High school. Tenth grade.
My mom talked to me about drugs and peer pressure as early as I can remember. Once I started seeing public service announcements for these issues, I noticed that the councils recommended talking to your kids about all of it before they reached the age that they would face the issues. I’m not so sure that is the case in this article – fifteen year olds do have sex, and apart from my personal beliefs about whether that is wrong or right, it is happening.
The biggest thing that bothers me about this entire situation is that most public schools avoid sex education completely. Currently, only 22 states require sex education… does that mean the other states don’t think their students are or will ever have sex?? Why in the world would it be less necessary in one state than another?
As a society, why do we assume that parents should teach their children about sex, when most high school-aged students would think of their parents as the last people they would approach with questions about sex? We’re failing our children, little brothers, and little sisters.
Kids need a structured, researched, well rounded approach to sex education, not what they find on porn sites or what a classmate whispered to them about seeing online. Personally, I think leaving sex ed. up to anyone could potentially misconstrue the meaning of sex entirely, leading into violent tendencies and abuse.
While I completely agree that an emphasis on consent is particularly important, we are lacking in other areas. As such a basic necessity, are we teaching personal hygiene? What is our daughters’ menstrual cycle education in school like? Are our sons even receiving an education about their bodies at all?
I’m grateful that these sensitive issues come up because they give me an opportunity to think about how I will educate my own future children about their bodies and about love.
Here is a little tool to learn about the facts on sex education in your state.