Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The kids already know, even in Kansas

For many years, I worked with NYC high school students to provide sex education and information about avoiding HIV infection. But I didn't do the educating; the kids did. The agency I worked for offered grants to HS students so they could educate their peers. This works beautifully. Kids are so idealistic when it comes to life and death issues. They truly dedicated themselves to helping their classmates avoid HIV infection.

One of the sub-plots we discovered during this process is that kids are more comfortable talking to a group about sexual practices than their skittish teachers. The adults were all red-faced and squirmy when they tried to talk about these things. But to the kids, it was just something that needed to be said. From what I saw, they weren't at all embarrassed to speak about sex in front of their classmates. It was necessary. They understood this.

So I wasn't surprised by the dimwit reactions of Kansas parents to the very existence of standard sex-ed methods. Most adults are totally out of it, sexually speaking.
A middle school in Kansas has removed a poster that used to supplement some of the sex ed curricula for eighth graders, following complaints from one parent who took his case to the press. The poster, entitled “How Do People Express Their Sexual Feelings?”, lists various sexual activities like “grinding,” “oral sex,” “kissing,” and “sexual fantasy.” It sparked considerable controversy last week after one 13-year-old student snapped a photo of it and showed it to her father, who threatened to remove her from the sex ed class. ed class? Maybe the father doesn't understand what "sex" means. And PS: the kids already know these terms and their meanings. They're not dumb.
“You know this had to pass through enough hands that someone should have said, ‘Wait a minute, these are 13-year-old kids, we do not need to be this in-depth with this sexual education type of program,’ ” Ellis told a local Fox affiliate.
Uh, did this father notice the words that came out of his mouth? Yes, it's a sexual education type of program. And yet this father finds it odd that they talk about, you know, sex in a sex education program.

As I've said, by and large, kids have no problem with a curriculum like this. Kids get it. Here's a quote from one of them:
“It’s just a poster — eye-popping, but it’s better they show us now than later on,” eighth-grader Lyssa Watland [...]“There are kids honestly that are my age who are sexually active and they don’t know the consequences.”
That's why we have sex education. But adults in Kansas can't understand simple logic: if the kids know the ins and outs of HIV infection, they'll be protected. And if they don't know, watch out. BTW, the school capitulated and removed the "offensive" poster. Twits.

If you don't speak clearly to kids about HIV/AIDS and sexual practices, they won't be protected against HIV infection. Doesn't that matter more than this nitwit parent's opinion? In Kansas, I guess not. Hopefully this will change -- for the kids' sake.