Laura Berman, a reporter for The Chicago Sun-Times, filed this piece today about Barack Obama's policy positions on sexuality education. The article begins...
If you are like most parents, nothing makes you more uncomfortable than sex questions from your children. The proverbial question, "Mommy, where do babies come from?" has most parents heading for the hills , or turning to the tried-and-true "From the stork" response.
Yes, absolutely true. Parents are probably the most difficult constituency to bring to the table regarding comprehensive age-appropriate sexuality education -- they just can't seem to get over the embarrassment of, *gasp*, admitting that sex happens and, *gasp gasp*, it can be pleasurable! It's no wonder, then, that children are 'grossed out' by thoughts of their parents' sexual lives. Gil Herdt, the director of the Center, posted a blog a while back about this exact subject.
Leaving parental frustration aside, it is true that keeping our children in the dark about sexuality makes it harder for our children to resist abuse and talk openly about sexuality during experimental teenage years. Obama hopes to change that with the following...
• [Start early and] begin by teaching your children the right names for their anatomy, and then tell them the truth (in the most basic, age-appropriate manner) about where babies really come from.
• Encourage them to ask questions.
• Warn them about "bad" touching, and tell them to come right to you if that situation occurs.
This is a great start. In the content of a presidential campaign, this is a courageous position. But in the context of a society paralyzed by far-right moralizing, sexual shame, and fear, we're going to need a lot more than just sex-ed for kindergarteners to recover from the years of Bush and Co.
Final thought: If anyone has access to other presidential candidates sex-ed plans and would like to comment on them, feel free to send them to me at isaacg [at] sfsu [dot] edu. Also, if you're involved with a campaign this cycle, and would like help from our experts to develop a policy proposal, feel free to get in touch.