Why we need to get in bed with modern sex ed

Emma Teitel on the misconceptions of progressive sex education

We need to get into bed with modern sex ed

Owen Franken/Corbis

In the fifth grade, my friends and I had a special afternoon tradition. When school let out at 3:30, we would walk to Katherine’s house (a pseudonym), raid her fridge, go upstairs to her bedroom, lock the door and watch Internet pornography. Where were Katherine’s parents? They were at work. But it wouldn’t have mattered. When they were around, we just turned off the sound, or read erotic literature on a website called Kristen Archives. This is how we gained the indispensable knowledge that some women like to be ravished by farmhands, and others, by farm animals. The year was 1999. We had not yet sat through our first sex-ed class, but when we did, almost two years later, it was spectacularly disappointing. We had seen it all, and now we were shading in a diagram of the vas deferens.

Since our special after-school tradition came to an end over a decade ago, Friendster, Myspace, Facebook, Flickr, Formspring, Instagram and Twitter have emerged. But against all logic, nothing has changed in the sex-ed business. Our century is literally on the cusp of puberty, and yet despite these enormous social and technological changes, we remain largely incapable of giving kids the resources they need to deal with their own puberty. I’m talking here, specifically, about the province of Ontario. As you read this, kids from Sarnia to Kingston—kids who, on average, have viewed Internet porn by age 11—are probably shading in the exact same vas deferens diagram I did. There’s nothing wrong with the vas deferens—or so I’m told—but surely there is more to sexual education in the 21st century than anatomy and colouring. Ontario currently boasts the most out-of-date sex-ed curriculum in Canada. It was last revised in 1998, which means sex ed was out of date when I took it.

The Ontario Liberals were prepared to do something about this in 2010, when they championed a revised sex-ed curriculum—one that includes sexual diversity, i.e., the revelation that not everyone is straight, and the requirement that teachers answer junior high school students’ questions about anal and oral sex. However, former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty got cold feet when a small group of vocal parents opposed the revised curriculum. So here we are three years later, with a newer, gayer premier—who promised to do what her predecessor wouldn’t—and still no dice. The revised curriculum, it was just announced, will not be implemented this fall. Several health organizations, including the Sick Kids hospital and the Ontario Physical and Health Education Association, banded together at Queen’s Park last week in frustration. They say failure to implement a curriculum that the majority of Ontario parents support (over 90 per cent, according to a recent poll) is sheer negligence. They are right.

Most kids see some kind of porn before they hit puberty. A recent U.K. study found that over 80 per cent of respondents under 24 have used social media to fulfill a sexual purpose. I don’t think I need to cite studies about sexting and cyberbullying. All the things parents oppose in the revised sex-ed curriculum are already likely very familiar to their children. So why not address them in the classroom?

The misconception about progressive sex ed is that kids are inundated with sexual material every day outside of school, and educators shouldn’t be inundating them inside it. But good, progressive sex ed doesn’t do this. Under the revised curriculum, health teachers wouldn’t add insult to injury. They would give thoughtful and measured responses to the questions kids ask about sex—particularly stuff they see and do online. They would, in other words, quell the fire, not feed it. Growing up in the early 2000s, for example, I did not know a single sexually active girl with pubic hair. Somewhere along the way, our after-school tradition at Katherine’s house (i.e., watching porn) convinced us that desirable women just didn’t have hair down there. Nobody discussed porn in our sex-ed class, or how women are portrayed in it. But perhaps if they had, we would have learned that shearing yourself is not a mandatory prerequisite to sex. A revised sex-ed curriculum gives context, and context is everything.

As for the curriculum’s controversial inclusion of anal sex—get over it. Gay teens have sex, too, and they have every right to learn how to do so safely. That is a public health issue, not a social one.

Our current premier’s reticence on a program she once lauded is most likely political. She doesn’t want to rock the boat quite yet, which is disappointing. But the aversion to the new curriculum by some parents is more clear-cut. It is not an aversion to sexual material in the classroom; it is an aversion to reality. It’s the reason fundamentalist Christians refuse to hand out condoms in AIDS-ridden Africa. It’s the reason my high school’s administration wouldn’t install outdoor ashtrays on our cigarette-butt-filled front lawn. (To do so would, of course, promote smoking.)

Kids shouldn’t watch porn, but they do. We can’t un-invent the Internet. And we can’t reverse puberty. Case in point: In 2001, one of the most determined voyeurs in our special after-school group skipped sex ed at the request of her religious father—for whom an hour of vas deferens shading was just too much to bear. He told her to go to the library instead, which was fine with her. Who, after all, could resist an afternoon with the Kristen Archives?

Have a comment to share? emma.teitel@macleans.rogers.com


Why we need to get in bed with modern sex ed

  1. Or parents could talk to their children about these issues – like I do with my niece and nephew – instead of leaving it to teachers who have an ideology to promote that has nothing to do with teaching kids biology.

    I find this article remarkable in how Teitel doesn’t mention her parents when it comes to education.

    • Perhaps it was an issue not discussed in her home growing up.

      • You are probably correct but who knows. I just find it remarkable that Teitel thinks it is the responsibility of teachers to tell prepubescent girls that they don’t have to have brazilian before sex. There are a group of people known as parents and they should be guiding their children into adulthood, not ideologically driven elementary school teachers.

        • I would suggest that your inclusion of the ‘should’ as directive is ideologically driven. Also, who says parents aren’t ideologically driven?

          Individual atomistic versus holistically culturally conditioned. Exactly what the WIERD article talks about.

          • @doug rogers, Whether or not “should” is ideologically driven is beside the point. As the primary caregiver, the parents are and should be the first/prime source for imparting values, ethical standards, whatever, to kids. I may not agree with what some parents do or don’t teach their kids but I have a bigger problem when the state and it’s arms reach further into the lives of citizens. Of course you won’t mind if your side is in control of the state machine and pulling the levers. But what happens when the other side is in charge?

          • The only “side’ I am on is the side of compassion, intelligence, and wisdom and education. No shoulds. ‘Should’ always has a preconcieved notion behind it, an ‘ideology’ if you will.

            Read and try to understand the WIERD article.

          • This is right. Parents are rarely perfect like that. And then they can be awkward people themselves who can’t talk about some things. Moreover, telling your kids about sexual matters is a gut wrenching thing to do to begin with! What works is, the parents need to develop a value system in their kids. The right and wrong and the not-desirables or should-nots can help kids decide the right way on other things. Its how we learn to judge things for ourselves.

            I learnt it the same way, in sixth grade. We didn’t even have internet back then. Good old VHS at a friends house who had a weirdly distracted pair of parents.

        • Do you know how many parents refuse to get their kids immunized against HPV as teenagers? They believe it will make their children promiscuous. Do you also realize that the Catholic church and all Catholic schools are still preaching abstinence? They do not teach anything about birth control, including using condoms for protection from STI’s because they don’t believe in promoting anything “unnatural”? Now, do you honestly think the Catholic parents are going to be discussing sex-ed topics with their children? The Catholic school may not give a complete education but at least they are providing some education. The parents still believe that the mother of Jesus was a virgin when she gave birth to him.

          • Re the last line: Depending on how you define “virgin” (traditionally it means vaginal penetration has not occurred) a virgin birth has always been possible without any divine intervention. I knew a guy many years ago who was unlucky enough to get his girlfriend pregnant practicing what they thought was safe – mutual pleasuring including external genital to genital contact – but at least one sperm found its way in anyway…

            And we can certainly create virgin births today with medical intervention.

            So the concept of a virgin birth is nowhere near as controversial as some seem to think.

            That’s not to say I agree with the RC approach to sex ed (I don’t) but as my acquaintance found out, “virgin” birth IS an issue worth discussing.

          • Let’s not split hairs, Keith. When us Catholics talk about immaculate conception and a virgin birth, we are claiming that the birth took place without the sperm fertilizing the egg. What you are alluding to is a pregnancy where a boy ejaculates at the opening of the vagina and the sperm swim up and fertilized the egg. Whether the penis ever actually entered the vagina or not, the penis was very near the vagina. In immaculate conception, God was NEVER anywhere near the Virgin Mary’s vagina.

          • I was married to a Catholic; I know what is meant by immaculate conception (and other Christians believe this too). My point is (a) that this has little if anything to do with why they are so restrictive on what they teach in sex ed (and from what my daughter has told me, many people are wrong about what they do teach); (b) people need to be aware that penetration is NOT necessary for conception to occur; (c) your raising the virgin birth is just an ad hominem attack on Catholics’ (and other Christians’) religious beliefs.

          • Keith, you misunderstand me. I WAS RAISED A CATHOLIC and both myself and my daughters attended Catholic school. The priest and the teachers explained the reason that Catholics do not practice contraception. It is due to the fact it is unnatural. They are okay with the rhythm method but not okay with the pill or with condoms, etc. Further, Bishop Henry in Calgary REFUSED to allow the public health nurses to enter the Catholic schools and give the students the HPV vaccine because of some ridiculous belief that it would cause increased promiscuity among teenagers. As for the immaculate conception comment….when I was in grade 10, the grade 11 class which had 23 students in total had THREE PREGNANT girls in it. One of the moms told the younger sisters of one pregnant girl that hers was an immaculate conception and the sisters believed it. Keith, I come from a family of nine and my best friend came from a family of 13. I think I am well versed in what happens in the teachings of Catholicism. Given that my youngest daughter is in grade 12 and the Bishop is still fighting to keep the HPV vaccine out of schools, I can tell you that the church is still not very progressive when it comes to sexual education. Your comment that I attacked other christian religious beliefs is completely unfounded because I did not.

          • Like I said; immaculate conception has nothing to do with what Catholics teach about birth control. When you throw it into your comment, it is a red herring. The implication is “how stupid are they to believe that?” Which is an ad hominem attack on anyone – [edit] Catholic or otherwise – who believes it.
            As to the rest of of your comments relating to Catholic teachings on sexuality & birth control… it varies, I think, to some degree from school to school (some are willing to veer a little off course). But as far as official Catholic teachings – yes, you are correct. My daughter attends a Catholic school – and my ex teaches theology at one. So I’m not exactly in the dark on the subject.

          • Keith, as I said I was raised a Catholic. I am not saying anything about them being “stupid”. Ignorance comes often from a lack of information and an unwillingness to educate. I honestly believe that many Catholic parents feel that if their kids don’t know much, they won’t be doing much as far as sex goes. If you look back in my comments you will see that when I discussed immaculate conception, it always was in terms of what some parents taught their children, not what the Catholic schools were teaching.

          • Then there’s reality…which neither teach.

          • Wow Keith! What kind of person talks like this? If I overheard you on a train, I’d have to backhand you. Ad hominem, red herring, slippery slope, strawman…. My intelligence is now superior, my arguments prevail!

          • Someone with an education. HI also has one. We can – and often do – discuss things on that level. If you can’t follow along – not our problem.

          • They prefer promiscuity with little boys instead…over masonic based magick rituals. Did you know that a Catholic priest must first become a freemason before he can be ordained?

          • That’s because their religious beliefs are destroying the beautiful world we live in, because religious people think for some reason we are above the animal kingdom. Religion sets human beings above other animals and the food chain entirely. It’s no wonder the world is going for a shit when half of the people in it think the world to be evil inherently and owned a Satan (which would not exist if it were not for religion). If it was not for religion, humans would have evolved far past our current state, and we perhaps could already have solved all the major social and environmental problems we now face. Even basic mathematics were steadfastly hidden from the masses for thousands of years due to religion. Free thinkers were put to death as heretics by the thousands.

          • Jews in Jesus’ time actually had a totally different concept of virginity. To them, it meant you hadn’t had a child yet. All Jewish women were considered virgins until they reached the third trimester of their first pregnancy. It was the Romans who turned the “virgin birth” into a miracle.

          • Exactly.

          • HPV vaccination is a completely different topic. You’re equating parents who refuse this vaccination with ignorance (thereby highlighting your own).

          • Okay so you’re anti-vaccine, that is fine but what I said is that people didn’t get the HPV vaccine and the BIshop didn’t let in the schools because they feared it would make kids more promiscuous. THEIR refusal of it had NOTHING to do with YOUR reasons for refusing the vaccine. Kindly don’t suggest that I am ignorant because I don’t: #1 – happen to agree with your stance on vaccine or #2 – happen to think that a vaccine or EDUCATION can cause promiscuity.

          • The Catholic religion is pious, ignorant, pathetic, corrupt, stupid and most of all 110% false. I hope people find love in the world, and stop depending on archaic texts to live their lives. Wake the %$#@ up, properly live in harmony with nature, and stop pretending and blindly believing the bullcrap that we are forceably being subjected to as children.
            Protect your kids people. Don’t let the brainwashed bastards get a hold of them!

          • Humans have been having sex since the dawn of man, explain to me why they need to be “taught” how to do it?? Lefty’s DESPISE Christians and will do anything to oppose them, even groom kids to be promiscuous regardless of the consequences. The hidden agenda of the Left. And everyone is forgetting that there are a lot of us that are non-religious, centrists that disapprove of this “grooming”, not just Catholics.

          • It isn’t that humans need to be “taught how” to HAVE sex. Children need to be educated that sex can result in: 1) procreation of children and 2) the passing of sexual transmitted disease. This is what is taught in sexual education class.
            I am not a “lefty” but a nurse and a realist. I have NO hidden agenda. I believe in providing education about the human body and how it works. You are right. Humans don’t need instruction on how to have sex and teens do it at very young ages. Even children are giving blow jobs as young as grade 5 and 6. Meanwhile HPV has now been found to be responsible for 1/3 of throat cancers. Do you really think it is wise not to teach children about sexually transmitted infections?

          • Nice try – I don’t fall for leading questions. Promoting early sex and promiscuity disguised as education isn’t the same. And when you want government to do it instead of parents, then yeah, you’re a Lefty.

          • I have NEVER voted any way but conservative ever and I have voted in every election since I turned 18. I am 50 years old and I am an Albertan born and raised. I would say you aren’t very savy when it comes to ferreting out exactly who is a “lefty” and who isn’t. I am also pro-vaccination…what does that make me?
            I didn’t say I wanted “government instead of parents” to educate children. I said someone needs to educate children. Knowledge does not lead to promiscuity and if you believe that then good luck to you. Obviously, you never attended the sex-education classes or you would realize they weren’t promoting promiscuity. Next, you will be saying that biology in high school promotes alcoholism and drug abuse because it teaches all about the human liver and the role the liver plays as a filter in the body.

          • Your “someone” was inferring Gov and you know it, otherwise, you’d’ve simply said “parents”, which I note, you still can’t bring yourself to say. That aside, it’s not about teaching kids, that’s the cover – the real agenda is indoctrination into their Alfred Kinsey world. (I suggest the book Intellectual Morons if you want to read about that sicko that the Left considers their Hero). Just like every show on tv – all guys are gay (they LOVE gays), and all girls are sluts, and don’t forget Little Mosque on the Prairies (the Left LOVE Mulsims!!) . . . I’d suggest the book; Primetime Propaganda . . . the author got all of Hollywood;s biggest hitters to admit they were altering society through their subliminal shows. And indoctrinating kids is right in line with those efforts. I know it sounds conspiracy theory, but it’s not.Here in Ont, a teacher had a poster up in his grade 4 class of a a guy going down on another guy – and that’s just the start.

          • Yes, it is ALL one big conspiracy to impregnate and sicken as many underage children as we can in the developed world!!! You are welcome to your conspiracy theories on how everyone is out to indocternate your children but for goodness sake, buy your kids condoms and birth control when the time comes!

          • Glad to see you did your homework, and not the least bit outraged by a poster of some guy sucking off another guy in a grade 4 class I see. Well, you ARE a Lefty aren’t you?? Guess I’m pretty good at picken’ ’em out after all huh?

    • In my father’s talk with me, he explained that my testes would soon produce medicine for my wife. I was ten. I had this vision of a doctor coming in with a needle to extract the medicine. I had no idea it had anything to do with why I kept falling in love with girls.

      And kids always know best how to find their way. Old people don’t get it because we’ve learned the lessons that only life can teach. And come to think of it, passing the course without doing the work is cheating. You can’t really claim to know anything at all if all that you know is what your aunt told you is so.

      • Why yes, let’s pass on ignorance and let the kids figure it out. That’s always worked well in the past. (rolls eyes)

    • You’re a good man for educating your family on these issues but the fact is that most parents don’t know enough about sex to pass on any good information to their kids. It’s not like the sex education they got in school (if any) was any better than what our kids are getting today…

      • Wow, are you effing kidding me? BTW – when you talk about ignorant parents, you ARE including yourself right? Or just the rest of us?!?!?! Well thank-you for the insight into the Lefty mentality – not that Lefty’s being stupid and arrogant is anything new!! Why is it stupid ppl are arrogant? I guess it’s cause you’d have to stupid to think you’re “all that” wouldn’t you? And that you got 4 thumbs up is down right frightening!!

    • Since we’re going to paint entire professions with the same broad brush, what ‘ideology’ is that? Please, enlighten us with your generalizations about entire swaths of people.

      • Clearly, teachers have an interest in there being more children to teach. So their ideology would be to promote procreation–early and often?

    • What makes parents or other family members experts in sexual health? Do you keep abreast of the literature?

    • Why do people always assume teachers are the ones who are “ideologically driven”? Do you actually know any teachers? The ones who are typically ideologically driven are the ones opposed to sex ed because they want to be the ones to indoctrinate their own children and don’t want to risk exposing them to reality.

      • Risk exposing them to reality? That happens when their born anyway.

  2. Once again “progressive” education relies on so-called experts to tell them what to teach. Notice there is never any dialogue about whether the experts have it right? It gets handed down like the Ten Commandments from university think tanks. To paraphrase Mr. Obama – “you don’t know this”. You don’t know this until a proper, vetted progressive expert has told you.

    • Of course, we should never listen to experts – the only people who can be truly trusted are the totally uninformed.

      • Being totally uninformed provides the unique opportunity to present a truly objective point of view. lol

      • There is a difference between a real expert and a designated one

    • Like who? The Pope? LOL

  3. Parents don’t teach their kids about sex….we’ve been through this for eons now. Most parents don’t know enough about sex to pass it on anyway. Victorian birds-and-bees stuff does more harm than good.

    But if we teach it in school, then it should be taught properly…..lots of teachers aren’t any better with the subject than parents.

    We freak about teenage pregnancy, abortions, STDs, suicidal kids and so on…..yet refuse to do something sensible about it. An adult society should be able to handle this better.

    • I am not sure that parents don’t know enough about sex but I do think that parents are completely caught unaware of what is going on around them. I worked with a woman whose husband was a psychologist at the school board. He was dealing with a problem with grade 5 girls giving grade 6 boys “blowjobs” on the school bus on the way to school. My daughter in grade 7 reported to me that girls were giving boys “hand jobs” in the back of the gym during assemblies. Try to convince your co-workers that these are the kind of things Johnny and Janie are getting up to in grades 5, 6 and 7. They are in COMPLETE DENIAL.
      My advice to parents…..start talking when they are young…grade 4. Tell them they can talk about ANYTHING. Do not freak out when they tell you about the blowjobs and the handjobs and the porn. Next, they will talk about the STD’s and the abortions and the suicides. If you as a parent, don’t know the answer, seek out professional help. Be open to the truth of who your kid is. If your kid wants to have sex, you better get your kid good birth control…condoms and the pill because your kid WILL be having sex and if you are in denial, you will end up with a pregnant kid or a kid with an STD. I remember seeing a show comparing Holland and the US. In Holland teenage pregnancy almost never happens because they are realists. They give teenagers birth control. In the US, they preach abstinence and well, we know what happens there….

      • Well you’d think most parents would know about sex…..since a huge number of them are boomers, and former hippies………but I’m always amazed at the numbers that don’t.

        I was saddened during the last 2 year US presidential campaign to hear the absolutely asinine theories many candidates had on sex/women…I don’t know where those people grew up but it’s a cinch they’d never had a biology class, a truthful birds-and-bees discussion, or even a passing acquaintance with anatomy.

        So what the children today are learning and from who….is a mystery. They certainly aren’t getting the knowledge in school. [ In fact you can go through school here without ever taking a sex class. Both my kids did ]

        Probably from ‘beach novels’ , the ‘street’, and now, from the web. And we know how wrong those sources are.

        Children should learn about sex long before they go to school….but real knowledge, not the rubbish they are told.

        Americans are very strange about sex…..it’s everywhere. They sell cars with it! But they can’t talk about it realistically.

        And ‘abstinence’ is the biggest joke….and of course doesn’t work. The father/daughter abstinence balls where they both exchange rings is purely creepy.

        • My daughters took sex-ed at the Catholic school…no contraception info taught. The one daughter had a teacher who had a child when she was 15 years old…those Catholics were still teaching immaculate conception and no worthwhile information.

          • Mine were in public ed, but you needed X number of credits and they took the allotted number without ever bothering with the sex classes.

            Plus parents can opt their kids out if they wish to….not always a wise choice.

            I was in the parents association and had to listen to one mother insist her girls didn’t need ‘to hear that kind of thing.’

            True, they got pregnant on their own shortly after graduation.

          • I attended Catholic school and they brought in a public health nurse to do the sex ed. She definitely covered contraception. I believe this was in grade 6 or 7. It should probably be done even younger these days.

          • The public health nurse was probably not a Catholic.

      • My daughter is in grade 5 (5/6 to be exact). Last week they had a few sex ed sessions, after which she looked quite disturbed and, in her own words, “disgusted”. Most other kids felt the same way.
        She heard her fellow students talking about all kinds of things even before the sessions, but dismissed them as “inappropriate”. She is simply not interested in these topics at her age (she still plays with stuffed animals).

        I am not in denial, I am sure all kinds of things do happen in Canadian schools, even in grade 5, but those cases should be treated as abnormal (with appropriate action taken by school officials, talking to parents, etc), without forcing ALL 5th graders to learn about things most of them are not morally ready to comprehend. Such sessions rob kids of their childhood, by reducing everything to pure physiology. This is a vicious cycle. Soon we will be reading about the same issues in grade 4, 3, etc. One has to look at the root of the problem. The government’s approach is rather simplistic: just hand out the condoms. This only encourages kids to have sex as early as possible.

        • Your daughter can get pregnant while holding on to a stuffed animal…..so get over yourself and teach her what she needs to know.

          If you can’t do it, let the school do it. You are failing your child.

          • I do not believe we are failing our child. Her questions are answered in a way that we believe is appropriate for her age. There is no rush, the child does not need all the details at once.
            But the school is treating every child equally, without consulting with their parents, who know better when to talk about what. We are 39, have the same story as healthcareinsider. We had no sex ed classes in our country (at least nothing as explicit as in Canada), and we do not see how this put us at any disadvantage.

          • Our reality is that we teach our daughter to THINK. There will be many situations where she would have to say no (sex, drugs, etc).
            You cannot assure that the child will be safe by “treating the symptoms” (give away condoms). The child should have right VALUES and use CRITICAL THINKING. We think this is what makes a child ready for the adult world. We know that it works, and on many occasions we were proud that our child makes the right choices by herself (e.g. not giving in to temptations to eat junk food when offered). Once again, when she has questions, we answer them, but we do not run in front of a train.

          • You can’t ‘think’ if you have no knowledge.

            You expect her to say no to sex and drugs….but don’t think she can say no to free condoms?

            You’ve already ensured she finds her body and sex disgusting

          • Our point is that everything should happen at the right time, Fifth grade is WAY TOO EARLY to have an explicit discussion of these issues. We planned to introduce these topics gradually, exactly to ensure that she does not find it disgusting! It was the school that made it disgusting, from her own words. This damage cannot be undone, which is the sad part. And yes, she can say no to anything she finds unreasonable.

          • But Life doesn’t happen at the ‘right time’!

            The school didn’t make it disgusting….it was how she’s been taught to think.

            By the time you get around to explaining….she’ll probably be pregant.

          • That’s why we teach her to say no when it is not the right time. Simple logic, see above.

          • LOL gosh, that simple eh? Just say no.

            Why hasn’t anybody else ever thought of that?

            [rolls eyes]

          • If I stop and think about sex, it IS disgusting. People swapping fluids, groaning and moaning. It is only because I have experienced the pleasure of it that I can move past the disgusting aspect. Why should your daughter not have correct information just because she finds it disgusting? Disgust is beside the point. Safety is the point. Better to be talking about it too early rather than too late. Yes, people develop at different rates but until class sizes are down to one teacher and one student, some students like your daughter will have to get this information a little before they need to to accommodate the students that need it in grade five.

          • No it is not too early. By this time kids know every swear word in the book and have probably invented a few. 5th grade is when we become sexually curious regardless of what your idiotic opinion may be. This is when girls start puberty. You don’t think the boys notice boobs starting to grow? This is exact time sex education should take place, and that’s why it does.

          • Again agreed. This is probably the largest female problem in western society.

          • Yeah, cultural and religious hokum….holds everything back.

          • I agree it does not matter what you believe. Truth requires the absence of belief.

        • I am 50 years old and we were taught some basic sex ed in grade 7. It was necessary because most of us were going to get our menstrual period around that time. For some strange reason, girls are maturing physically faster and many are getting their menstrual periods at age 9. Therefore, it has become necessary to start teaching the basics of sexual reproduction and anatomy in grade 5. Your daughter may be playing with stuffed animals but she may not be indicative of all the children in her classroom.
          I would be the first to tell her that whatever she feels is “okay” and assure her that whatever questions she has, whenever she has them, you will be ready to answer them.
          I am not sure why you think it is inappropriate for a child to learn how their body works and where babies come from. Surely this knowledge cannot hurt a child. As for moral maturity, I am not sure what that means but I do know that being honest with a child and consistently encouraging them to talk to you, their parent, about their concerns is in no way morally corrupting. As for your belief that handing out condoms encourages kids to have sex, I would have to disagree. I didn’t have sex until I was 21 years of age and I only ever had sex with the man I married. My daughter is an 18 year old virgin. Information does not cause promiscuity. Open dialogue is the means to imparting your views on what a special person your daughter is and how she deserves to be treated well in relationships. Not discussing sex won’t ensure she doesn’t have sex but teaching her to value herself will ensure she makes good choices about her future experiences.

          • LOL that’s an improvement actually. I’m 66, and we learned about our periods in grade 12….4 years after most of us had them.

            Oh…and we got a film about tadpoles.

          • I too was a “late bloomer” (won’t say the exact age but yes in my 20s when I lost my virginity) and I think it was partly because I was so well informed. I knew the risks – and knew I wasn’t ready to accept them.

            The idea that education causes promiscuity is, frankly, absurd. My own (admittedly anecdotal) knowledge of the sex experiences of those I grew up with says it is those who are less aware who start young and wind up pregnant.

        • Think back; did YOU know about sex at that age? I know I did. Better kids learn the truth rather than the myths that tend to circulate among the young (and even quite a few adults) before the myths cause them real harm.

        • Grade 5 is certainly not too early for it. It should be handled properly so as to not disturb students so violently, and you should have been made aware that the lesson was going to take place in advance, but it’s not too early by any means.

          You say in later comments that you are 39. I am 23 (and thus, not as removed from the school system) and even when I was in school, I can remember quite a few people who were having sex by grade 6. Some of them with multiple partners, some with multiple partners at a single time, and some on tape. I don’t know about the issue of protection, but I would be surprised if it was used safely or at all each time. I can’t say I remember classmates having sex in grade 5, but they easily could have been. Even if they were not, isn’t it better to get the lesson BEFORE engaging in potentially risky behavior?

          I am also in schools on a regular basis as part of my profession now, and I can tell you that things haven’t gotten better. In fact, now it makes its way into the public domain through the posting of explicit images on facebook, etc. Sex ed needs to adapt to what is occurring, so students can learn to be safe in all areas (which before were not even imagined) and at the right age.

      • You previously told me that the Lefty ideology doesn’t promote promiscuity, yet look at the stories you just relayed. Thank-you for proving my case!!

  4. I think the problem is that fifth grade students (10-11 years olds!) had nothing better to do than watch porn every day after school. This is truly sad. I can assure the author that not all 5th graders today are like that, it depends a lot on the cultural background. If Canada claims to be sensitive to other cultures, how about consulting with parents on what is appropriate to teach their kids. I was very lucky to grow up in Soviet Union, where the emphasis was on math and science, not pubic hair. If the teachers and parents do not find a way to offer kids something more intellectual and healthy than free condoms, we will find ourselves in the movie Idiocracy (a must see for all the sex ed activists and such).

    • Oh yes, the kids are studying science here too…human anatomy. One of the biggest mistakes parents make is in believing it has to be dark for kids to have sex. More times than not, the parents are upstairs watching TV while the kids are “getting busy studying” with their clothes off down in the basement in the middle of the day. Being naive is the biggest mistake a parent can make.

    • You should do a google search on “Russian porn” and see what is happening to girls where you were so lucky to grow up

      • Things changed exactly when the collapse of Soviet Union was followed by active promotion of “western values”. What you refer to is the result of 23 years of degradation.

        • ‘Western values’ have nothing to do with it. Porn, rape etc happen all over the world and always have.

          • Believe it or not, there was barely any porn in the USSR. Children were never exposed to it.

          • Of course there was. You were just unaware of it personally.

          • There were lots of things Soviet children were not exposed to. Like proper nutrition, shelter and a clean environment.

          • Oh yes, we all lived in GULAG and ate vodka for breakfast.
            Free hot lunches in schools and (free) daycare, free extracurricular music, art, dance lessons and sports sections, system of math and science olympiads, free high quality higher education. This was a nightmare.

          • If it wasn’t a nightmare, why were people willing to be shot trying to escape from it?

    • Not all Grade 5s are, to be sure, but many are. That includes more than a few from ‘nice homes’.

  5. “In the fifth grade, my friends and I had a special afternoon tradition.”

    We Aren’t The World:

    “IN THE SUMMER of 1995, a young graduate student in anthropology at UCLA named Joe Henrich traveled to Peru to carry out some fieldwork among the Machiguenga …. In doing so, Henrich expected to confirm one of the foundational assumptions underlying such experiments, and indeed underpinning the entire fields of economics and psychology: that humans all share the same cognitive machinery—the same evolved rational and psychological hardwiring.

    Henrich had thought he would be adding a small branch to an established tree of knowledge. It turned out he was sawing at the very trunk. He began to wonder: What other certainties about “human nature” in social science research would need to be reconsidered when tested across diverse populations?”


  6. I realize this is an outrageous proposal and could never be implemented except on some fantasy island, but I think it is exactly what we need.

    Introduce to sex ed a topic on pornography. A good teacher would lead discussion into the issues that kids struggle to deal with.

    I know. I know. Nutty idea.

    • We don’t need to teach porn, we need to teach sex.

      • There will be questions about sex arising out of porn. A good thing to state, in general, is that porn is not real(istic).

        • That would be learning it backwards….which would explain why girls dress like porn stars now.

  7. One of my buddy’s kids, at age nine, asked his dad questions after first taking sex ed. “You mean… I have to put my penis in the girl’s vagina???” “Ewww… that’s gross!!!”

    His dad and I figured, give him a few years and he’ll change his tune.

    • My question is why did he think it was ‘gross’ to begin with?

      • For most kids that age, it would be a pretty normal reaction.

        • No, it would be a culturally taught reaction

          • EVERYTHING can be defined as “culturally taught” if you stretch the definition enough.

            At different stages, kids think different things are gross. Just which things they think are gross are probably at least partially cultural. But it is a universally experienced stage of development nonetheless.

            The idea of putting part of one’s anatomy into another person – or having someone put part of their body into yours – would seem like a strange idea to a child. And given the parts of the body in question up to then would have been thought of primarily in terms of expelling bodily waste, then yes, I think it would be quite normal that many kids as old as nine may well think it “gross”.

          • KIds in other countries don’t have a ‘gross’ problem….just us. We teach it.

            In the middle ages, people slept in the same bed as families, or the great hall as a community. Everyone saw sex.

          • And even after we started sleping in our own rooms, kids often saw animals engaging in the act. But in modern society, we don’t see a lot of things. A lot of people think meat comes neatly wrapped in cellophane, and get grossed out by abbatoirs. They aren’t necessarily taught that abbatoirs are gross; they just aren’t accustomed to seeing such things.
            “Teaching”- in its most common usage – is a conscious act. We can learn behaviours without being specifically taught them. Kids can easily decide something is “gross” on their own without having been deliberately indoctrinated to believe it to be so. In fact a gay kid would think straight sex is gross despite all his / her cultural indoctrination.

          • Do not confuse personal quirks, especially in the west, with the entire species.

  8. This comment was deleted.

    • I pity your children.

      • What kind of a self-righteous social-engineering lefty would assume he has the right to pity another man`s children ?
        Nobody said they felt sorry for your children with you as a parent.
        Self-righteous lefties are sickening.

  9. Times have certainly changed. In my day the only thing Canadian boys had was the lingerie section of the Eaton’s catalogue.

    • Ah the memories-for me it was the Sears catalogue-good times.

  10. This types of issues was very interesting when we are in child phase.

  11. The only solution is to draw and quarter the pornographers, the Hollywood scum
    and the rest of the merchants of moral decay.

    • I don’t disagree but there will always be & have always been the merchants of moral decay-they have now succeeded in convincing the generation such as Ms. Teitel that it ISN’T moral decay but rather something to be accepted.

      The solution isn’t to draw & quarter the scum but to push back on the negligent & dangerous liberal agenda wrapped in ‘opinion’ pcs such as this one that supports this putrid.

  12. Typical response from Teitel-can’t do anything about anything so just demand everyone accept whatever is happening because everyone is right-pure leftist liberal approach.

    There’s absolutely a morality question here when viewed in the context of the ‘slippery slope theory’-something that Liberals refuse to accept-to them it’s just progression & if anyone holds onto tradition, they are luddites & should not be allowed to continue to have input.

    So I’ll say this to the liberals out there-if we need to ‘get over’ that sodomy is happening in the LGBT population, then every female should be taught how to take it up the backside too. After all, if it so normal, then females need to learn to welcome the practice with the guys who would like to perform it on them-just get over it.

    • If you mean it they should give anal sex information to females and males in sex-ed then you are absolutely right. If you mean woman should give in and have anal sex even if they don’t want to just please their boyfriend, then you should get some sex-ed, especially the part about respecting what your partner is comfortable with.

  13. I was aghast to read the cold, amoral attitude behind this article. As a Psychiatrist I have spent a life time healing the makers of the Internet pornography. They are wounded drug addicted, slaves to a life style they see no way out of!
    We need a return to morality and values that our children can live by. Because we all break the laws sometimes does not mean the laws are bad. this applies in every area of life including sexuality. Children need to be taught boundaries to feel safe.
    Despite the seeming invisibility of the Bible in 2013 I predict it will be the world’s best seller this year (as it has been for over 500 years)
    because it contains the most modern instructions on how to have a very happy and healthy life!

  14. There are a number of parents out there who are ill equipped on a number of fronts to fulfill their parenting role. “It takes a village…” would presume to suggest that broader society has a responsibility to backstop parents and ensure that our children reach autonomy with an adequate skill set to function in today’s environment. That, IMHO, should include a solid base knowledge of sex and what they might reasonably encounter on that front, ideally BEFORE they are confronted with potentially life changing decisions and circumstances. Those who would keep this kind of education out of our primary education have their heads firmly in the sand and are ignoring the realities of sex in our society today.

  15. The point is that sex ed IS taught in school, so should be current. However, I agree, the ‘brazilian’ example is a bad one, its a bizarre thing to expect to be ‘taught’ by a school. Answering kids questions is another matter, and its a tough one. “My boyfriend wants me to….” isn’t a sex ed question for a teacher. It would be nice to live in an ideal world where we expect parents to be founts of knowledge, but as we know, a LOT of parents have little knowledge of sexuality themselves.

    I think the author has missed the point though that the ‘kristen archives’ is hardly the only place online discussing sex. There are MILLIONS of places kids can go to get questions answered, even by experts. I’ve SEEN some of the kristen archives, and that kids would read it is troubling enough, heck, that ADULTS read some of it is troubling. But my question to the author of this piece is: Do you STILL think women want to be ravaged by farm hands and farm animals, or did you grow up?

    Thats a different issue, and the author is correct that a new curriculum is long overdue, and its NOT as controversial as some think it is.

    • It is interesting that you bring up the example of “my boyfriend wants me to…”
      I completely agree that this IS NOT about sex ed and it isn’t a matter for a teacher to discuss with a student. Ideally, a parent should be open to having this discussion in a non-judgmental way. There was a young couple on Oprah who were maybe 15 years old who were going to have sex. When the counsellor asked them each about where they saw the relationship going, there was a stunning result. The boy saw it lasting 6 months. The girl was shocked by his assessment. Right then, she decided she wouldn’t be having sexual intercourse with him. She had seen the relationship as being something long-term….at least lasting a year or more.

      The thing I spoke to my kids and ALL of their friends about had nothing much to do with sexuality as such, but with the truth of differing expectations and being honest about what your own expectations are. We discussed things like the teenage boys Dr. Phil had on who said they would never take home the girls who gave them blow jobs to meet their mothers because they were “skanks”; that it is a misconception that sexual favors make you popular or make a relationship last.

      The important thing is that when a person decides to have sex, is that they do it because it is their decision. They want to do it. Then they need to have someone to approach regarding protection and birth control.

    • Kids aren’t going to seek out answers until they have a question, which may be too late. Related also to healthcareinsider’s comment, I would like to add that preparing adolescents for unwanted sexual encounters would be a good thing to have in sex-ed.

      I wrote about a case of sexual exploitation recently, and to me it also raised again the issue of what young people choose to wear and how they act (and much more than that), not with the intent of blaming young women but of having them recognize that sometimes they can take some responsibility to prevent bad things from happening. See Anne Kneale and Bill Mates: age, gender, and sexual
      exploitation, Apr 14, 2013:

  16. Parents should of course be having these conversations with these kids but the sad truth is that their are far too many parents unwilling or unable to have them. Study after study has shown that kids who are brought up without sex ed in their schools or abstinence only education are far more likely to end up with unwanted pregnancies or STIs. Not teaching kids to orotect themselves is tantamount to child abuse

  17. Parents should be monitoring their kids’ internet usage in a family area. Ridiculous that in grade 5 you had such a ritual, Emma. Farm animals? Really? Shame on your parents.

  18. Teitel is not overly swift, is she? That is all Ontario needs – more sex education in their schools. Now that the country has heard how Ontario schools use demonstration posters to teach little boys how to perform fellatio on their ten year old friends, boys and girls, and the achitect of their school curriculum is being arraigned today in a Toronto courtroom on “two counts of distributing child pornography, making child pornography, counseling to commit an indictable offence and sexual offence against a child under 16 years of age” this is probably not exactly a great moment to be suggesting that parents turn the sex education of their kids over to Ontario educators. Bad timing don’t you think, Emma?

  19. I find her “reasons” for grooming kids early in life pretty slim to say the least. Maybe she should’ve written an article for parents on how to use the Parental Control options instead. Apparently, this never crossed her mind. My sis has raised two beautiful kids you’d swear are right off Little House on the Prairies. So her assertions that one can’t raise conservative kids in today’s environment as impossible are plain wrong. It’s really a Lefty agenda to tear down anything and everything Christian, which Lefty’s associate with the traditional family, (it would never cross her mind that non-religious centrists like me appreciate a traditional family).

    • The Parental Control option that cannot be overridden, defeated, or bypassed by a determined and tech-savvy 12-year-old has yet to be invented. Even if you turn the house into a digital fortress, all it takes is a few evenings as a friend’s house where the parents are more liberal-minded than you, and your ‘efforts’ are undone. So unless you effectively home school your child, and forbid any contact with the outside world beyond what you approve of, the best approach is to openly communicate with your child, even if they see and hear things you yourself do not approve of.

      • Fair points, but I think it’s more than that, it’s the overall upbringing of the kids as well. I think we’d be nieve to think one thing will solve the issue. But your missing the point. Lefty’s ADORE Alfred Kinsley . . the sickest pedophile in the history of man. You can read about him in Intellectual Morons. Lefty’s – like Kinsley, believe everyone should be boinking everyone, kids n parents, intergenerational sex – the whole 9. And this program is about grooming kids to that end. I’ll err on the side of safety thks. School can teach my kids the human body, I’ll take it from there. I mean, it’s awfully arrogant isn’t it? For them to think parents are incapable so they have to do it?I don’t trust their motives. Lefty’s never tell you what they’re really up to. They’re sneaky!! And hey, if they want to groom their own kids, that’s their business – but not mine!!

      • I agree. That said – when kids do it in secrecy, they think it’s “wrong” and are a lot less likely to act it out, then when teachers condone it outright. that makes it acceptable, and far more likely to act on it.