How to make sex unsexy: Teach it

Progressive sex ed may not just be a victory for public health, but for abstinence



Listen to Emma Teitel read her column, or subscribe to Maclean’s Voices for on-the-go listening:

If you are a child in an Ontario public school studying sexual education, you are stuck in a time far different than your own. Your sex-ed curriculum, last revised in 1998, reflects a world in which Coldplay is cool, sexting doesn’t exist, and Facebook isn’t even an idea brewing in Mark Zuckerberg’s brain. Your curriculum predates not only every piece of technology you use on a daily basis, but also what is likely your mother’s favourite talk show. Ellen Degeneres, North America’s favourite lesbian, began dancing down the studio aisles of The Ellen Show in 2003—the same year gay marriage became legal in Canada, and Kim Kardashian starred in her career-making sex tape. But your sex-ed curriculum doesn’t reflect these monumental cultural shifts in our society because it is a relic. Until now, that is.

Related reading: How safe is sexting?

This week, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne unveiled the province’s revamped sex-ed curriculum, one that makes no reference to Kim Kardashian, but includes other topics equally significant to the modern age: sexting, cyberbullying and LGBT issues (namely, that families come in all different shapes and sizes—a fact that even the movie Mrs. Doubtfire tried to embrace in 1993).

The new curriculum, revised in 2010 but shelved by then-premier Dalton McGuinty after a small group of socially conservative parents complained, will be introduced to the province’s schools in September—but not without controversy. The same group of parents and activists who spooked McGuinty staged a modest-sized protest at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Tuesday, chanting slogans and holding signs, one of which read: “What’s next . . . safe animal sex?” (A girl can dream.)

Chief among the things that disturb this group is the early age at which students will learn the facts of life. Kids in Grade 2 will learn about consent, kids in Grade 3 will learn about homosexuality and same-sex marriage (which is to say they will learn that such things exist, not that the Adonis bathhouse in Toronto offers a 30-minute “soft hands” massage). Students in Grade 7 will get the facts on contraception, STDs, and oral and anal sex. Being products of a hypersexual era, they will likely know these things already (and a whole lot more), whether their parents want them to or not; some kids watch porn for the first time when they are 10.

Related reading: Q&A: A mother’s journey through the perils of teen sexting

But parents wary about sex ed in Ontario—or parents wary of progressive sex education anywhere in the country—shouldn’t despair at the thought of teachers taking health class into the future. They should rejoice. In fact, they have more reason to rejoice than their socially liberal counterparts, for there is no dissuading voice more powerful when it comes to sex than the voice of an enthusiastic, open-minded authority figure. Kids don’t giggle in health class because they are titillated, but because they are embarrassed. Talking to a teacher about sex, watching him circle the urethra on a giant diagram of a penis, or put a condom on a banana, does not typically make a kid hot and bothered; it makes her cringe.

Related reading: Emma Teitel on the real world of teenage cyberbullying 

The saving grace to sex ed in my youth (i.e., the sex ed of today) was that the types of things that did get us hot and bothered—cybersex, web-cam shows, Internet porn—existed entirely outside the classroom. They were covert; they were unknown to parents and teachers alike and, thus, free from awkward school-sanctioned dissection.

When the new sex-ed curriculum rolls out in September, this will cease to be the case in Ontario. Students will not find out about sexting from their friends—or from those sexting them—but from their teachers. In other words, when Susie receives her first explicit text message, she may not be able to shake the memory of Mr. Johnson’s lesson in sex ed about the “the dangers of dick pics.”

This doesn’t mean that cybersex will never be had again, or that kids will stop downloading porn, but that an intensely private world will, for the first time, be made public in a very sterile, cerebral and unsexy place. In the end, then, progressive sex ed may not just be a victory for public health, but for abstinence.


How to make sex unsexy: Teach it

  1. Who taught 6 year olds to be embarrassed about sex in the first place?

  2. Weird that there is no mention of Ben Levin, the man responsible for this new curriculum. He’s about to plead guilty on child p0rn0graphy charges. But of course only stuck up bible thumpers get annoyed at having their children’s sex education in the hands of a child p0rn0grapher so it’s not worth mentioning.

      • Yes indeed. From that link:

        In July 2013, Levin was arrested by the Toronto Police Service sex-crimes unit and charged with seven counts of child exploitation, including charges of possessing and accessing child pornography. He had been a suspect of the Toronto Police Service since the middle of 2012.[6] He was released on $100,000 bail. Levin’s lawyer said: “I intend to work very hard to see that he shall be innocent”.[7] In January, 2015, Levin’s lawyer confirmed his client will indeed plead guilty to some of the seven charges related to child pornography, but would not specify which ones. According to a letter sent by Levin to his former colleagues he will “be pleading guilty on March 3 [2015] to three of the seven charges, namely one count of possession of child pornography, one count of making written child pornography, and one count of counselling a sexual assault.

        • And the part about where he made up ‘dirty stuff’ for your public school child to learn?

          • Levin was deputy minister of education in 2010, at the time this sex ed curriculum was crafted.

            Game Set Match.

            Im not surprised to see you supporting child p0rn0graphers controlling the sexual education of children Emily, it fits your pattern.

        • Fraid not doofus. One man in the ministry of education is irrelevant….and didn’t ‘write’ the curriculum.

          Same stuff taught in all the other provinces

          Why? Is the info new to you?

          • This curriculum was created under his direction and his supervision.

            The fact that he is a child p0rn0grapher and that the curriculum was created under his direction explains why they need to teach anal sex to 11 year olds.

        • This is standard info AA. Same as everywhere else.

          Never let a child go ignorant into the world.

          • So true. We should also teach 5 year old kids about bestiality, and 4 year old kids about necrophilia. Because we dont want them to be ignorant.

        • Why are you so afraid of knowledge AA?

          Would you really harm your child to save your blushes?

          • Why are you so intent at having little kids learn about every weird kinky fetish. If you had kids (I suspect you dont you sound like a poor barren woman who will die alone), you could teach them about gay sex as early as you want. But to impose a child p0rn0grapher on other people’s kids is an act of aggression.

        • AHAHAHAHAHAHA….yup, the term ‘ape’ suits you.

          • sorry if the truth hurts Emily.

        • Anymore cliches you want to toss in? LOL

  3. Students in Grade 7 will get the facts on contraception, STDs, and oral and anal sex.

    Yeah I only started having anal sex in grade 9, so I find that this is a little early.

      • Yes. Be prepared that people with unconventional sexuality like Levin and Wynne have a chip on their shoulder and want to teach your kids about anal sex before puberty.

        • Ahhh, now it comes out.

          Your religious views supposedly override fact-based biology for everyone else.

          Nope, sorry

          • Emily you may as well give it up. It’s like trying to argue with a brick – the brick is just too thick for anything to “penetrate” so-to-speak :-)

          • Yes I understand you’re obsessed with penetration. Good for you and have fun with that. Just keep it away from other people’s kids please.

        • You clearly have a hard time understanding simple English. Not surprising from someone of your intellect who supports having kids being taught about sex by a child p0rn0grapher.

          I never mentioned anything remotely religious. But since religion is the only thing you’re able to argue about, that’s what you bring up. Hilarious.

          This is not about fact-based biology either. It’s about what’s age-appropriate, and how a child p0rn0grapher might have a vested interest in “getting them while they’re young”.

          • Oh you’re religious. It’s party of your worldview. You don’t even recognize that ‘morality’….which is religious…is your issue here. Not biology.

            In the Middle Ages kids slept in the same bed as the parents…..kids have always known about sex, and experimented with it.

            The Victorian age is where it got all preachy….and that’s the era you’re stuck in.

            Knowledge helps them avoid std’s, pregnancy and being exploited.

          • So you’re now reduced to telling me what I think so you can argue against that instead of what I said.

            I am actually not religious and I do not support religion informing things like sex education at all. I support an update of the sex ed curriculum to reflect current technological realities and I support that the curriculum includes references to homosexuality.

            What I do not support is that this curriculum was prepared by a child p0rn0grapher, and that they try to push notions like anal sex to very young kids. I strongly suspect a link between the child p0rn0grapher designer of the curriculum and the need to push anal sex at a very young age.

            Argue against THAT, if you can, not against some strawman from your imagination.

          • You’re just blathering in order to blather. Don’t waste my time with nonsense.

            The sex curriculum in online, Ape.

            Go read it for yourself.

            You might learn something.

          • Sorry I understand you have a 75 IQ and can only argue against the stereotype of people that Keith Olbermann taught you to despise.

            But it’s telling that at first you were denying that Ben Levin, child p0rn0grapher, had anything to do with the curriculum.

            Then I showed that I was right and you said it didnt matter.

            Then I showed that it mattered and then you started inventing things about my supposed religious beliefs.

            Then I showed you that I had no religious beliefs and that my objection was based on at what age it is appropriate to teach kids about anal sex and then you just gave up even trying to make sense.

          • LOL I’ll bet that kind of logic made you a hit in high school.

            Fraid it doesn’t work in real life.

            Now stop clutching your pearls, and go read the curriculum for yourself

          • According to Emma Teitel, anal sex is taught to kids in grade 7. I trust her on that particular point. If you disagree with that assessment, show me otherwise.

            I think grade 7 is too young to teach anal sex. I think the only people who think it’s reasonable to teach anal sex to grade 7s are people with a “vested interest” i.e., Ben Levin, child p0rn0grapher.

            Maybe you disagree. Maybe you think grade 7 is way too late to teach anal sex and you think anal sex should be taught in grade 2 because you dont want kids to be “ignorant”. I dont know. So what is it? Is grade 7 “just right” for anal sex? Should it be grade 2?

          • Kids in grade 7 would be 11,

            An age when kids used to be out working.

            These days they may be engaging in sex, or curious enough about it to try…and whether they’re gay or het they need factual information on the subject so they are safe.

            If you think just telling someone about anal sex means they’ll run right out and do it, maybe we should teach them about nuclear physics or orbital mechanics?

            There is no perfect age…..they simply need the protection of knowledge. Ignorance won’t help them if they meet a predator.

          • So if there is no perfect age, why not let parents decide. What do you care if other people’s kids learn about anal sex a bit later? Why do you and Ontario Liberals need child p0rn0grapher Ben Levin to teach other people’s kids about anal sex?

          • Have you read the ciriculum? If not, why not take the time & read it before commenting again. We all get that you have an obsession with Ben Levin, but he was one man in a ministry @ the time the cirriculum was being revised. You have zero evidence that he had any hands-on involvment.

          • Child pornographer Ben Levin was the deputy minister of education in 2010, at the time this sex ed curriculum was crafted. That’s all the evidence I need.

            And I dont need to read the curriculum, when even people who are in favour of it, like Emma Teitel, report that it includes teaching about anal sex in grade 7. I suspect the truth is far worse but her reporting is sufficient for my point: this was crafted by perverts like Ben Levin with an ulterior motive in the oversexualization of little kids.

    • By Grade 7 you’re 12 years old. Many people have entered puberty by that age, so your “before puberty” line in your other comment is nonsensical.

      Grade 7 for me was 1975. In a small town in NL. By that age, I knew about anal and oral sex. Not first hand, but from kids talking. A lot of what I and the others “knew” was nonsense, but we had the basics right.

      We didn’t have anywhere near the kind of access to information kids have now, 40 years on. You can bet far more kids have much easier access to information – and misinformation – than we had then.

      So yes, Grade 7 is an appropriate age to learn this stuff. The more you know, and the earlier you know it, the less likely you’ll do something stupid – or have some pervert take advantage of you -simply because you don’t know any better.

      • Many people have entered puberty by that age, so your “before puberty” line in your other comment is nonsensical.

        Many people have not. My comment was perfectly accurate.

        If you want to have your grade 7 kid about anal sex from child p0rn0grapher Ben Levin, be my guest. It shouldnt be forced on every kid and parent in the province.

        • The problem isn’t the kids or their ages, it’s your puritanism….religion again.

          Because of that you’d keep your kids in ignorance. That’s child abuse.

          • So Im a puritan for not wanting child pornographer Ben Levin teaching my kid about anal sex in grade 7. So be it. I wish you all enlightened people all the best with your kids and child pornographer Ben Levin and all the anal sex you can handle.

            But forcing child pornographer Ben Levin on other people’s kids is very much child abuse.

            Funny thing I didnt learn about anal sex in grade 7 from child pornographers, and yet I dont feel like that was child abuse.

            And although you really wish my objections were about religion, because that’s the only thing a pathetic mind like you can argue against, it’s not. Are you saying that the non-religious are all pro-child pornography and pro anal sex with kids? That seems incorrect to me.

        • Sorry, but you have no argument and never did.

          And mentioning Levin’s name a dozen times doesn’t improve it. LOL

          Now off you go to read it….and get over yourself.

          • How about you have a long and deep reflection why you want child pornographer and Ontario Liberal Ben Levin to be teaching other people’s kids about anal sex in grade 7?

        • So you’re saying we should have a doctor confirm that someone has entered puberty before teaching them about it? Some enter puberty as early as nine or ten; others not until mid to late teens. You going to hold back everyone for the sake of a few late bloomers?

          As Liz Sandals explains here http://www.macleans.ca/society/health/liz-sandals-defends-her-governments-new-sex-ed-curriculum/ the timing of when to introduce various components is based on public health data.

          Your nonsense about the curriculum being developed by a pedophile for pedophiles is just that – nonsense. Kids actually are better protected from pedophiles if they know what the heck the pervs are trying to do to them. They’ll know it’s wrong, and they should tell someone. Ignorance helps pedophiles get away with it, doofus!

          • So you’re saying we should have a doctor confirm that someone has entered puberty before teaching them about it?

            No I never said that. Please argue against what I said not against strawmen.

            FACT: Ben Levin is a pedophile.

            FACT: Ben Levin was deputy minister of education when this curriculum was crafted.

            You’re free to have your kids educated by all the pedophiles you want, I really dont care. But I dont see why you would want to force other people’s kids to be educated by pedophiles. Specially about topics like anal sex.

            Ben Levin obviously had motive and opportunity to create a sex ed curriculum which would be advantageous to his “hobby”. Unlike you, Im not relying on his good nature, or (LOL) the competence of his employees to believe that the curriculum was not corrupted by Ben Levin’s pedophilia.

          • I notice you ignored the part about holding others back. Without a Dr checking the class, how can we be sure everyone has entered puberty and thus has crossed the threshold you set?


            Fact #1 has nothing to do with Fact #2. Many people were responsible for putting the policy together; different people are implementing it. The policy is fact-based, drawing on public health data. You, on the other hand, are drawing arbitrary thresholds to cross and trying to deflect away from the fact that your argument has no basis in reality by throwing in Levin’s (alleged) pedophilia. If anyone is using a straw man…

            Is your halitosis the result of your bowel movement? By your way of thinking, the two must be inextricably linked, as both have you in common. Truth is, there’s probably closer linkage there (though hopefully not the direct causality I raised) than there is between your Facts 1 & 2.

          • Fact #1 has nothing to do with Fact #2.

            That is a value judgment which you choose to make.

            If you want to have pedophiles in charge of your children’s sexual education, be my guest. Wynne is imposing a pedophile on the entire province of Ontario and that is child abuse.

            He has motive (his pedophilia) and opportunity (being deputy minister of education) to adapt the sex-ed curriculum to be as pedophile-friendly as possible. What you’re essentially saying is that we should all trust him because we have no smoking gun and because others worked under his direction in preparing the curriculum.

            If those answers satisfy you, that’s fine. They shouldnt satisfy anybody with a brain.

            I dont trust his “good nature”. One of the offenses he’s going to plead guilty for next week is “counseling a sexual assault”. Look it up.

            Also, the notion that I should somehow trust the competence of ministry of education bureaucrats in standing up to their pedophile deputy minister is even more hilarious. Education grads are notoriously the dumbest and most incompetent of all, and those who end up at the ministry of education are the lowest of even that lot.

          • There’s the straw man again. You don’t like the curriculum but have no clear, logical explanation as to why you don’t like it – so you hold up this one man, who was but one of many involved in the creation of this curriculum, and try to make everyone believe that we should ignore all those others, and all the data on which their decisions were based, and assume it’s some pedophile plot.

            If it were, then the curriculum would tell students less, not more, about sexuality and right and wrong. Information in the hands of the young actually makes it harder for pedophiles to take advantage. Ignorance and secretiveness are prerequisites to their keeping their behaviour secret.

            In the meantime, you have slandered everyone who worked on the curriculum. For if it is a pedophile plot, then surely, by your logic, they are all complicit.

            Go have a banana. Be sure to use a condom.

        • Like I said, you have no argument….no brains either. LOL


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