Monday 26 April 2010

Hijacking my own blog...

This blog was started for the purpose of chronicling our lives and making sure those little moments don't get lost in time. It's also a great way for family and friends to keep up with our goings-on on their own terms (rather than being inundated with emails as they were at the beginning of Alexandria's life!) It's a light, little personal blog. Today, though, I'm hijacking my own blog because I need to say something.

Last week the Ontario government announced - and quickly backed down from - a new sex ed curriculum. These changes had been "quietly unveiled in January. To see the changes, one would have to read through the entire curriculum", according to this article. Last week, however, they were officially announced. This drew an immediate, loud and reactionary uproar. The government quickly shelved the proposed changes. McGuinty said, "that after listening to what parents had to say, it appeared that many of them were not comfortable with the content -- and that the changes had not been communicated very well." Ya think?!

The last part of his statement is where their biggest miscalculation came. This was not communicated well at all. (Most) people did not read the actual curriculum and just reacted to some key points. The fact that the public outcry was so loud and fast shows most people did not sit down and look at the changes (except whatever brief explanation there was in whatever article or newscast or friend's comment they were taking their 'facts' from.)

I agree that when I first saw 'anal sex' and 'vaginal secretions' being taught in Grade 6 and 7, I was taken aback. (Actually, to see 'anal sex' and 'vaginal secretions' in print took me aback.) I was also unsure of gender identity being taught in Grade 3. This is the one I'm most curious about HOW it will be taught. To just say to a group of 8-year-olds "sometimes girls feel like boys on the inside" would be very confusing. I believe we do need to teach inclusion right from the start. Some people are attracted to the same sex. Some people are attracted to the opposite sex. Some kids have two mommies. Some kids have two daddies. Some have one mommy and one daddy. Some have one mommy. Some have one daddy. Some kids have foster parents. And on and on....

We need to teach kids these things BEFORE they get to a point where they are confused and scared and have no idea what is happening to them. As far as the teaching of oral and anal sex to kids in Grade 6 and 7, the government is not proposing a how-to guide. These forms of sex are being looked at as attractive alternatives to intercourse and kids do not know the risks of these activities. THAT is what we need to teach. Information does not lead to doing. It's going to lead to more informed kids. More informed kids are going to be more confident. More confident kids are going to - for the most part - make better decisions.

This new curriculum also focuses on abstinence. Something I think we can pretty much all agree on is that we want our kids to WAIT.  There are some interesting stats in this article by Ann Douglas about 'abstinence-only' versus 'abstinence-focused' (meaning contraception is also taught) programs. Ann Douglas has some great links in that article as well, and has written a series on this whole kerfuffle.

My kids are 3 and 5 1/2. My son knows he has a penis and under that penis there's a scrotum that houses his testicles. He knows he the same as his daddy. He also knows his sister and mom have vaginas and that we all have bums. My daughter knows she has a vagina and a vulva and is aware of the parts her brother, mommy and daddy have. They understand we don't all have the same parts. MOST of our parts are the same, but there are distinguishing features each gender has.

Vagina. Vulva. Penis. Testicles. Scrotum.

Did those just make you uncomfortable? If so, why? My kids are fine with them. Just as they are with ear, eyes, knee and ankle.

If we teach our kids along the way all these things that we feel are scary get light shed on them. Then we realize it's the unknown that's scary. Kids will find this stuff out on their own. They will. They will learn from other kids. They will learn from YouTube (maybe not at your house, but somewhere). They will learn by doing it themselves. I had no idea penises got erect. Or at least, no idea that they pointed up when they did, until I encountered one.

Arm them with knowledge. Instill them with values and be there when they need you. Be their parent, not their friend and let them use you as an excuse to not do stuff. (That's a topic for a whole other post!)

There are groups on Facebook that have formed for and against this new curriculum. There is a petition to bring back the new curriculum.

I'm not telling you which way to go or what to think about this. I want you to inform yourself fully.

Please take the time to look over the three page summary of the proposed changes. Really think about what is being suggested. Think rationally on how this will be taught. Then decide where you stand. Please educate and inform yourself before you form an opinion. Just as we hope our kids will.
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