Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

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By Paige Swanson

I would like to voice my support of SB Unified's Sex Education Program for the junior high students in this community.  

My understanding is there is a small, but very vocal group opposing this program and they are planning to protest it. 

I also understand that parents who are against this program can simply decline it for their child.

I am upset that these people against it, are attempting to block it from MY child learning about sex in school!  I WANT this program for my child.

I feel very strongly about this issue because what I see happening is Americans speak precious little to their children about sex, and school is the ONLY place MOST kids will get 
"correct" information in an age appropriate way, from trained teachers.

Peggy Orenstein has two excellent books, Boys & Sex and Girls & Sex, where she talks about this very issue. She interviewed hundreds of teenagers about the current state of sex for American kids and the majority of parents are NOT talking to their pre-teen and teenage kids.  

Kids are curious and smart, so they seek it out one way or another. 

FACT: Kids today are getting Sex Ed from:

1. Peers (who are ill informed) and 

2.  The Internet, ie: Porn. 

Right now in 2020, the average age for a child to see their first porn is 11!  This isn't like finding a Playboy under the mattress. This is hardcore, gnarly stuff that is very easily accessed 
and shared between our teens. I have heard a few disturbing stories lately from fellow moms. (involving kids as young as 9!)  

Education is empowerment. I am the daughter of teen parents. My parents had my oldest sister at 16. (That is my son in two years. Kids having kids!) 

I think when kids have correct information about sex (from trained teachers in an age appropriate way), they are more likely to make good decisions for themselves. 

I don't want this small group to dictate and try to block something I want for my child. If they don't want it for their child, fine, they can decline it, BUT don't try and block it from the rest 
of us. 

What SB Unified is doing is correct and right... Educating our kids about this very important, natural part of life is the right thing to do.


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49 Comments

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lovesbalot Oct 24, 2020 09:29 AM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

I agree that sex education is important and should be taught. You are correct that parents can opt out. My concern is for the kids of parents who opt out won't get any sex ed. I believe we as a community would be better off offering two programs so that every student gets sex ed. Kate Ford in the early board meeting was for Heart program, which does meet the legal requirements because she thought it was more sensitive approach. Both approaches should be offered because all students need sex ed. The needs of the students should be the priority. And the children born into conservative households should not be left without anything because typically it leads to unplanned pregnancies at early age which is not great for anyone.
monie

mattyboy Oct 24, 2020 09:36 AM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

It would be nice if there was a more balanced approach, where we curtailed the overly early exposure of "hardcore, gnarly stuff that is very easily accessed". It's pretty disturbing how easily accessible that stuff is.

CoastWatch Oct 24, 2020 09:43 AM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

Let's worry and be concerned about Sex Education and not be concerned about Math, Science and spending a day talking about WWI and WWII in History Classes or the lack of funding for Industrial Arts Classes that will prepare a large percentage of "non-college attending" youths to be productive ADULTS...

biguglystick Oct 25, 2020 12:40 PM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

COASTWATCH, those things are all very important too.... but none of those things end up in unwanted pregnancies. Sex-ed is crucial and necessary. So, yeah, let's focus on getting it to the students.

a-1603558380 Oct 24, 2020 09:53 AM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

Sex ed has been around for a long time, in one form or another for over 100 years. There would be less controversy about it if they just stuck to the basics. What I learned in 5th and 6th grade was completely appropriate and could be expanded on a bit. My children received health education in their last year of high school which was more comprehensive. Very appropriate. I don't remember much in between though. Maybe there was a unit during junior high life science, but this is also a crucial time. It would be foolish to opt out of this valuable education. I've talked to my kids about many issues related to sex education, and of course our values, but there's so much more to cover.

Byzantium Oct 24, 2020 10:10 AM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

Anatomy and physiology is okay. Conception and conception prevention is left to parents and their values. Anything else is off limits in public schools. Anatomy and physiology only.

ChemicalSuperFreak Oct 26, 2020 10:30 AM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

LETMEGO: So you're implying that parents are completely irresponsible when it comes to raising their own children? Why not just take the kids away then, and let the state raise them?

letmego Oct 26, 2020 10:51 AM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

I'm implying that my own parents were hard core Catholic and too damned embarrassed to talk about sex with their children, aside from "don't do it". Luckily for them, I was a nerd AND got sex ed in school. That classmate of mine who had her first kid at 14 and second one at 16 wasn't so lucky. Then again, she's probably been an empty nester for 16 years, so, yay?

ChemicalSuperFreak Oct 26, 2020 11:00 AM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

One side of my family is Catholic, so I understand this for sure. My parents signed the wavier that allowed me to take sex ed, beginning in junior high. One thing I distinctly recall is the birth movie. A few kids actually got sick and threw up. It left an impression on a few of the girls, who resolutely stated that they absolutely weren't going to have baby because of all the screaming and blood; they didn't want that happening to them. Who knows how long that sentiment lasted, but it seemed like de facto birth control at that time.

dukemunson Oct 24, 2020 10:14 AM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

A problem that I see is the obsession with secrecy regarding the curriculum that these outside groups bring with them. Everything that is being taught should be available to be seen... by everyone! Why hide anything? As a district we should strive to keep and get parents as involved as possible... and any group that refuses to let their lesson plans be seen should immediately be shown the door.

sbalice Oct 24, 2020 01:04 PM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

DUKEMUNSON makes two very good points. Transparency and parental buy-in. It seems reasonable that the district should choose a sex-ed curriculum which is available for view online by all parents, and the community, at any time. A school district has to earn the trust of its parents.

NostraChumash Oct 24, 2020 12:10 PM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

I remember a time ( boomer-me), when the "ThreeR's" were the focus of my education.
There was alot less rape or impregnated teachers back then..
It makes me wonder as to exactly what "lessons" remain for parents to teach their kids, since everything about growing-up seems to be dependent upon teachers?..
If your kids do not share your same values, don't wonder why.

SBTownie Oct 24, 2020 04:47 PM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

Of course sex ed is needed. And we need an updated curriculum to reflect the reality of the hyper-sexualized society kids are growing up in. But we don't need a curriculum that encourages teens to have @[email protected] sex as a method to prevent pregnancy. The lacks of transparency is the problem. The district claims the curriculum is copyright - and I have no doubt that it is (and that we license it for hundreds of thousands, if not more) - but parents have a right to see what their children are being taught. If it's really as innocent as educators claim, then people will quiet down. You can't blame them for being up in arms when they're not being given the right to review the material and have come across some pretty scandalous excerpts online. I'm neither religious or prude and I have no problem with kids having sex lives in high school if they're educated. The excerpts I've found from Teen Talk online are honestly obscene. They go beyond educational and truly enter lewd territory. Google it if you care.

sbalice Oct 27, 2020 09:13 AM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

SBTOWNIE makes two great points: "I'm neither religious or prude...The excerpts I've found from Teen Talk online are honestly obscene. They go beyond educational and truly enter lewd territory." "Parents have a right to see what their children are being taught."

Coronamom Oct 24, 2020 05:08 PM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

Schools can't even get the basics right these days, like boys have penises and girls have vaginas. I don't want them saying anything to my kids about sex!

Byzantium Oct 24, 2020 05:39 PM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

Sperm meets ovum when uniquely male physiology meets up with uniquely female physiology which results in a fertilization, otherwise known as a 9 month gestation period for the fetus and the birth of a new human being. Don't want to get pregnant; don't have sex. Basic. Handle with care.

PitMix Oct 26, 2020 07:27 AM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

Byzan just explained why the US has the highest teen pregnancy rate among 1st world nations. Thanks for the very clear explanation.

Byzantium Oct 24, 2020 05:36 PM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

Sex education is basic physiology education. Sexuality education does not belong in public schools. Other organizations can provide that topic off campus, if parents are so inclined by choice. Or when students become legal adults they can get as much additional information as they choose, on their own. As if they are not already on the internet. What is left to still "teach" that require tax payer dollars? Maybe the right question to ask is did the student learn anything new from any of these packaged, tax-payer funded curricula, that they did not already know? Or knew where to look if they wanted to learn more? .

RHS Oct 24, 2020 06:36 PM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

For those of you who weren't there, the 50's to 80's were torturous times for adolescents and teenagers. I remember going to the library to look for answers and being told I was not allowed to read the medical books because I was not old enough (although eventually the librarian allowed me to look over a few basic medical texts). Young people have questions and urges and they need to be informed about what they are feeling and the alternatives and consequences of their choices. Sex education, for want of a better term, is socially necessary if we are to have a healthy society.

a-1603594260 Oct 24, 2020 07:51 PM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

RHS I went to high school in the late 80s and we had very graphic Sex Ed in 9th grade. They scared the hell out of us because of the AIDS epidemic. We were told if we had unprotected sex we were going to die. We were told if we got pregnant our lives as we knew it would be over, we were shown graphic photos of STDs that were so horrible I still remember them 30 years later. None of this was controversial because it was true and necessary. We learned about relationships, safe sex, domestic violence and how to respect others. Our hormones were raging. I have been boy crazy for as long as I can remember. When I was in high school boys were literally all I could think about. Thank god I learned about protected sex because no one was stopping me from having it. But that class taught me how to take care of myself and others. We need these classes because no matter how well you think you have taught or not taught your kids about sex someone else’s kid is watching porn on their phone all day.

Byzantium Oct 25, 2020 10:03 AM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

7:51 - why didn't you talk to your family doctor about all of this since you claimed you were a victim of your own biological "hormones".

letmego Oct 26, 2020 10:00 AM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

@BYZANTIUM...family doctor? In the late 80s? The only time we went to the doctor was to get signoff to be in sports. Didn't have health insurance.

a-1603593938 Oct 24, 2020 07:45 PM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

I haven’t paid that close attention, but didn’t we see on Edhat awhile ago that one of the sex ed curricula mentioned anal-oral contact? Specifics like that freak out some parents. I don’t know what to think.

a-1603598953 Oct 24, 2020 09:09 PM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

Reportedly to emphasize how high risk it is. Considering that it's been a joke and maybe a real birth control method for decades if not centuries, it's a good thing to mention! (Been a Catholic school joke for my entire life.) I'll try to find quotes re: curriculum to back this.

a-1603598695 Oct 24, 2020 09:04 PM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

"Teen Talk" curriculum summaries: https://www.health-connected.org/curriculum //////////////////
The material is not available online because it is copy-righted; the curriculum companies want and somewhat need to make money off of it. Schools can always invite Planned Parenthood educators in! /// I was lucky enough to read Masters & Johnson and "The Joy of Sex" as a young or even pre-teen. The books were there -- I was interested. I cannot remember NOT knowing how babies were made. I don't remember school sex ed, I'm sure I already knew what they were teaching (I was born in 1961.)

I support information provided by public schools, and information and access provided by Planned Parenthood, American Sexual Health Association, etc. https://www.ashasexualhealth.org/

Thank you, Paige Swanson, for this editorial.

For summaries of some of the local controversy, the Independent, as disliked as it may be, has some specifics on objections to and realities of curriculum in their ongoing coverage.

https://www.sbunified.org/2020/10/09/know-the-facts-about-santa-barbara-unified-school-district-chya-curriculum-teen-talk-middle-school/

a-1603599293 Oct 24, 2020 09:14 PM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

I think the best support for detailed and extensive sex education is what any kid can easily see online these days! Better it be put in context and combined with health, relationship and psychological context. Can you imagine being pre-teen and watching Porn Hub?! Some parents need some reality checks!

sbdude Oct 25, 2020 09:05 AM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

I think a lot of parents' concerns center around 2 main points.

The first is the "secrecy" of the curriculum. This seems to be a theme surrounding student materials on hot-button issues. Just like the Just Communities curriculum, these are copyrighted and are only visible by those who can make an appointment to come down to the district office and be allowed to view the materials for a set period of time, presumably under the watchful eye of a district minder. Not a good way to get parent buy-in.

The second is the presumption that the material is saying it's OK to do certain things that most parents would consider not OK. An example would be that if the materials presented anal intercourse (done safely) to be an acceptable alternative to vaginal intercourse, when it comes to preventing pregnancy. I am sure few if any parents would like ideas such as this to be presented, but often safety and acceptability are not well defined. Again, easy accessibility to the materials by concerned parents would go a long way to alleviate any misconceptions in these areas, if they are indeed misconceptions.

sbalice Oct 25, 2020 09:17 AM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

The best comment on here is from Lovesbalot. Straight up, there are two sex ed curricula available. One is available for free, and can be accessed on line by parents. The name of that sex ed curriculum is HEART. Then there is the Teen Talk curriculum which the district adopted 5-0 over the protest of 1,000 parents, which is not available for parents to view on line, and the district has to pay for it. Both curricula are compliant with the newly-adopted state standards for comprehensive sex ed. The argument from the HEART camp essentially is: "Teen Talk is X rated and pornographic, HEART is G rated and wholesome." Both curricula cover all the necessary topics that we all want our children to learn about: preventing pregnancy, preventing STDs, healthy relationships. All of the arguments here for "why our kids need sex ed" are completely missing the point. The question is not "if" but "which." The question is "one" (controversial curriculum) or "both" (a choice between two curricula , one of which aligns with more traditional values). Everyone wants sex ed for their child. Go back and read Lovesbalot, the first comment. Lovesbalot makes all the relevant points. What more is there to say? Why would you want 1,000 parents to "opt out" of sex ed when the district could let those parents "opt in" to HEART, and make everybody happy?

biguglystick Oct 25, 2020 12:36 PM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

The further we get away from the "education" part of sex-ed and the more we focus on the "sex" part, people start to lose their minds. The more educated teens are, the less likely teen pregnancies are apt to happen. Make sex-ed a priority with caring and inclusive language. Today's world is hyper-sexualized, especially for teens, (have any of you seen the dances and songs on Tic-Toc lately?!!). We need to address consent and make birth control widely available and affordable (FREE!). The more we head backwards toward puritan mores, the more we suffer as a society. Let's move FORWARD and address these things with clear minds and a caring attitude. Teens are GOING to have sex, there's no way around that. Hormones are raging at that age. We can't wish that away. EDUCATE, educate, empower.

beachsong Oct 25, 2020 01:59 PM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

I'm a grandmother of 3 children. I want them educationally equipped for this world. Sex education is a basic need in the schools. Look at Norway. Sex education is extensive and it results in very few teenage pregnancies, much better than in the US teen pregnancy rate.

dukemunson Oct 25, 2020 03:01 PM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

I agree... though with the caveat that using small Nordic countries as an example/comparison is slightly silly as the differences between Norway and the US are way beyond that of an apple and orange. I do find it offensive though when curriculum is pushed in which it’s nearly impossible to see what’s actually in it as a parent. The secrecy under the guise of copyright protection is just downright silly. Whether it’s sex, math, history or anything in between... make it all available and open. We want parents involved... so help/encourage them to be involved...

sbalice Oct 26, 2020 09:03 AM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

DUKEMUNSON Yes. Make it all available and open. Math, history, anything in between. We want parents involved..so help/encourage them to be involved. Secrecy is "silly."

ChemicalSuperFreak Oct 25, 2020 03:33 PM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

Although I'm naturally in favor of pushing STEM as early as possible, I wish those in charge of setting curriculum would not lose sight of the 3 basic things our children need to be taught before they depart from the education system: 1) Sexual Education; 2) Financial Responsibility; and 3) General Hygiene. Not everyone is going to be a chemist, and that's fine with me, but we're all going to interact with and have an impact on each other at a very basic level. It seems like a lot of the problems society faces today are a result of these 3 very basic things taking a back burner to all the vogue and less important political agenda of the moment.

Ahchooo Oct 25, 2020 08:14 PM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

Some people think those three things should be taught by parents, not by schools. But I agree with you, our schools do have to teach what young people NEED to know, because many parents don't teach their children.

ChemicalSuperFreak Oct 25, 2020 09:14 PM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

AHCHOOO, completely agreed! They should be taught by parents. Unfortunately some of that subject matter might be uncomfortable for parents and/or the parents may not be that knowledgeable in the first place. Additionally, some kids just don't have parents that are involved; many parents rely on schools to do the parenting as well as babysitting. The three items I mentioned are basically survival skills, and schools must prioritize them in the curriculum.

Ahchooo Oct 26, 2020 01:29 PM
Opinion: Sex-Ed is Needed in School

I agree, Chem. Some people still think schools should only teach readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmatic, but that would leave countless youngsters woefully ignorant. I feel sorry for teachers, who are asked to do so much, but that’s how it has to be if we don’t want a bunch of pregnant, STI-infected youth.

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