We are truly more united than divided when it comes right down to it … so how is it that fear and ignorance can SO divide us? For example – Let’s take the issue of whether or not we should provide comprehensive sex and life education for our children.
This past week, a controversial sex education bill was passed by Washington State Legislature Saturday afternoon, joining 29 other states and the District of Columbia in making sex-ed mandatory K-12. This bill saw a passionate fight against it from conservatives in our state, who at one point added over 200 amendments to the bill in hopes to prevent it from moving forward.
Take one pastor’s reaction to the bill passing. Ryan Faust of Grace Church Seattle posted recently on Facebook complete lies to discourage and frighten parents
He said this:
“The Democrats voted against the amendment to remove the pornographic materials from the (WA) curriculum which includes:.
-how to masturbate each other in the bath tub
-how to engage in bondage or blood/body fluid play
-how men can have babies
-why parents and religious groups are to be distrusted”
He goes on and on… all of these statements untrue, foolish, and twisted.
What is true – is that this team of researchers and educators spent years developing this curriculum. It is age appropriate at each grade K through 12. Parents can opt their child out at every grade and they have full access to the entire curriculum at any time.
This curriculum is solid and healthy and will, as the research shows:
Help kids get involved in sex later
Make safer sexual choices when they do decide to become sexual
Be able to protect themselves better
Lower teen pregnancy and STI rates
Help kids choose more kind and loving partners
Help them stay closer to their parents overall if their parents engage with them around this curriculum
Help them have more satisfying and more varied sexual lives as adults once they have grown up.
Scandinavian and Dutch countries have had these results for over 50 years. We know this works.
If you’d like to read more into this research, check out Not Under My Roof by Amy Schalet.
While opinions and politics may vary between families and communities, most parents I know want to find ways to keep their kids safe. They want to teach their children how to recognize danger. They want to teach their children how to be a good friend and how to choose good friends. They want to help them recognize when someone is trying to manipulate, coerce or hurt them. They want to guide them as they learn about crushes – how to manage good feelings but also how to protect their heart, how to discern if someone is treating them well and how to learn to treat others with respect.
Beyond this, parents hope their children will remain connected to them as they grow through their later childhood and into their teen years so they can remain a resource to them as life and relationships get more complicated and dicey. They want lines of communication to stay open, especially when they know their kids are being exposed to a lot out in the ‘real world’.
These ideals are reflected in Washington’s bill , which sets up a framework for curriculum that is age-appropriate, comprehensive and teaches consent & media literacy, from kindergarten through 12th grade.
At the elementary level, sex-ed topics are limited to knowing the body and how to protect against physical assault or unwanted touch. Students then have the opportunity to build their knowledge as they mature, learning more mature topics of reproduction, STDs, and sexual assault in middle and high school.
When we don’t provide this age-appropriate sex and relationship education to our kids, they are left victims to a culture that is constantly inundating them with sexually explicit content from age six on – from the moment they lay their hands and eyes on a computer, phone, or other device. Adult predators are soliciting children in less than 2 minutes on social media according to Bark, a child-monitoring app that flags alerts to parents at any signs of cyber bullying, depression, adult content, etc. through texts, email and social media.
In the internet age especially, if children are not taught slowly and age appropriately about healthy relationships and their body, they cannot recognize what is dangerous. They do not know what to do when something is not right, and they do not have the language to express themselves. They have not practiced expressing what is right or what is wrong. So, it is critical we give them these tools to model to them how to navigate these murky waters. We intrinsically know this approach is needed in every other area of their lives … but somehow in this area … people keep freaking out.
A colleague of mine and her husband, right now once a week until the end of the year, is meeting with her kids entire 8th grade class to provide relationship/sex ed for them.
After the first week two of the mom’s said “their kids have showed up completely differently at home this past week – they feel closer to their classmates. They’re experiencing courage, vulnerability and intimacy.”
To further this sentiment, I appreciate what Senator Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond said to The Seattle Times in hopes of the impact this bill will make on our community, “Instead of constantly reacting to violence against women [and children], we now actually will be in a position where we are preventing future victimization and preventing future violence.”
THIS is what you see when kids are given age appropriate relationship and sex ed. It empowers them! I submitted comment when this bill went to a public hearing & am so thrilled that after a long and hard fight— Gov. Jay Inslee will soon sign it into law.