Sexual education in the school has long been in need of a revamp, and this week, a coalition of health and education groups issued non-binding recommendations to states and school districts regarding sex ed in the school. One of the most striking elements of the recommendations is the definition of sexual orientation, something that will likely anger thousands of parents who don't want their kids learning about same sex relationships.
The new sex ed recommendations come into play by the end of fifth grade and would define sexual orientation as "the romantic attraction of an individual to someone of the same gender or a different gender." Amen. That is exactly what it is and children should be learning about in school, especially those whose parents display bias and prejudice at home.
Some might say these kids are too young to be learning about such things, but they're incorrect. Kids need to know about the different ways people can love and they need to know that early on in life.
In fact, these guidelines, designed to get states on the same page with sex education, are also designed to do something else: Stop bullying. And the only way to do that is to educate children about differences and make them seem less "different."
This is easy enough for children like mine who are growing up in a family like mine where there are people of all different sexual orientations and surrounded by our friends who have all different family make-ups. But for more sheltered kids or kids whose parents aren't supportive of gay rights or who, even worse, hate gay people, it's crucial that they get some exposure to ideas other than their parents'. Because their parents are wrong.
Parents who teach their children to hate or who openly hate others actually encourage bullying. The fact is, their children will have to exist in a world with gay people. Like it or not, that is just realistic. So parents who avoid the topic or try to pretend like it isn't there aren't helping their children become responsible citizens. Even worse, children who grow up with little exposure to the truths about life are much more likely to ostracize a person they view as "other."
We aren't talking about showing children graphic pornography or describing the finer details of homosexual encounters. This is a basic fine-tuning of their understanding of sexuality, which is something 90 percent of fifth graders (maybe even more) are already pretty aware exists.
I hope schools adopt this. It would make the schoolyard a much more inclusive and friendly place.
Do you think sexual orientation should be included in sex ed?
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