Teacher Takes Kids on Field Trip for Sex Ed Class & Oh, Boy, Did They Learn a Thing or Two

school busWhen I was in school, the most risque visualization we were offered was the condom on the banana demo in sex ed. Let me tell you, curriculums have changed, at least in one Minnesota private school. Director and sexual education teacher at the Gaia Democratic School, Starri Hedges, finished off her month-long sex-ed course with a field trip to the Smitten Kitten, a local adult novelty store.

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It’s not that I’m against pushing the envelope of sexual education and arguably this is the kind of school to do it. From their website, the Gaia school promises “holistic educational services...with emphasis on democratic process, individualized instruction, academic freedom, self-motivation, cooperative learning, youth empowerment, and environmental stewardship.” It’s a place you’d expect progressive and open sex ed instruction.

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But the Smitten Kitten for middle schoolers as young as 11? That visit might be best suited for an advanced level class, not because I think kids aren’t interested, but that we should ensure they have the fundamentals down first. I’d rather see a trip to a rape counseling center to drive home the importance of boundaries and consent. Or a trip to a doctor’s office to role-play detecting, diagnosing and treating certain STDs. Sex isn’t all edible underwear and enhancer rings.

Any of these field trips should require parental consent, another piece the teacher admittedly failed to appropriately communicate. Unfortunately parents went ballistic, and teachers need them on their side. As uncomfortable as many parents are with the idea of their teenagers having sex, we all know it happens.

It’s great to have educators bringing our children on sex-related field trips, but the conversation should start and continue at home. If parents aren’t even aware of what their kids are doing and learning at school, it’s only going to steepen an already uphill battle. For kids to truly abandon feelings of shame and fear around their changing bodies and new sexual curiosity, they need to hear it from their parents in addition to their teachers.

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Given that abstinence-only programs routinely fail our children, I’m in full support of creating a safe environment where children learn about sex with curiosity and without judgment in all schools, not only progressive private schools like Gaia. However, ignoring parental consent and commercializing the act are steps in the wrong direction. Surely after a month of instruction, there’s so much more kids need to hear and see about sex. Like the act itself, teaching children about sexual intimacy should be taken slowly and broken down thoroughly, rather than racing to the sex shop.

When my son was a baby, he loved cruising up and down our couch and screamed if you tried to put him on his belly in the middle of the room. You know what? I made him scream with constant tummy time. Knowing the evidence that crawling plays a role in core development, spinal alignment and visual-spatial skills required for reading and playing sports, I refused to let him skip a step, as children are typically eager to do. This story is a reminder that I’ll be repeating that lesson for years to come.

Do you think this school went too far? If not a sex shop, what field trips would you support for your children’s sexual education?

 

About the Author: Carinn Jade is a lawyer, yogi and freelance writer, but never at the same time. Her work has appeared in Brain, Child Magazine, The New York Times Motherlode, Mommyish, Moonfrye and DailyWorth. She also regularly neglects her blog, WelcomeToTheMotherhood.com and tweets @carinnjade.

 

Image via © iStock.com/sunara

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