Wednesday, March 10, 2010


So our Miss Julie Sunday, just posted an amazing piece on pregnancy rates in Austin and Texas and the abysmal record of sex education throughout the state. She's right on all counts. Things are terrible.

I'm a parent of two children, both under high school age. I'm filled with trepidation as they approach puberty. Not because I have any fear of talking to them about their bodies, or dealing with the myriad emotions and issues that puberty brings, but because I know they are going to get shit tons of misinformation through the schools and through their peers.

In short, the attitude around kids and sexuality is completely god awful. And so where Miss Sunday will post facts? I will post a rant.

Case in point, when my oldest was first in kindergarten, I got a call from the principal's office. She let me know she was calling to discuss "an incident" that had occurred on the playground. The incident was a simple age appropriate moment between three kids, one of them mine, discussing their body parts and taking a quick peek.

I laughed the laugh of a woman raised in the 70's, quite familiar with "Doctor" and expected a chuckle on the other end of the phone. Surely, the call would end with a warm moment between adults, with the concluding remarks of something like, "I'll have a talk with him tonight." She didn't respond with a chuckle. "I have to mark it that I've reported it to you. If it happens again, it will have to be considered a sexual incident."

The what?

Kids talking about their body parts and having a look was a sexual incident? Even playing full on doctor is widely considered absolutely normal for kids of 5 years. The kids don't know what "sexual" means. They just know they have funny looking parts. The correct way to handle it is with calm and understanding, not shaming them and scaring the parents.

I figure that the administrators are terrified themselves. Scared of lawsuits, scared of bad press, scared of having to deal with the all too real incidents that are actually "incidents". There are zero tolerance policies for contact/touching/hugging all over the nation, Texas is no exception.

I think what it does though, instead of letting kids grow up with a normalized sense of how their bodies work and develop, is create an environment where their body is the enemy. Where their natural inclination for curiosity is suspect and where parents are faced with trying to promote healthy sexuality and healthy boundaries which may actually be considered far too liberal by the schools.

Then again, what is healthy? If you are reading this blog, I bet you are biased towards the open and communicative, towards the rights for LGBT individuals and towards a "no harm no foul" approach to sexuality. So am I. And I want my kids to grow up knowing their bodies are their own and that they need to respect their bodies as well as others. They can only do that if they have the room to learn in a safe and comprehensive way.

I fear that if Kindergarten in Texas was any indication, the teen years are gonna be a doozy.

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