Redefining Sex Ed

, Sarah Carlsruh, Leave a comment

For parents worried about how to tell their kids about sex, good news: now you don’t have to. The public school system will do it for you.

The Preserve Innocence Project’s September Innocence Report analyzes “government activity that threatens childhood innocence,” focusing on sexuality education. The report addresses sexuality education guidelines suggested by both the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), saying that implementation of these guidelines “would relegate children to a mass, cookie-cutter education on the most personal and complex of subjects.”

The Innocence Report says that the efforts of these organizations, to make sex education the responsibility of the schools, “[d]emeans the rightful role of parents as the primary and principle [sic] shepherd of their child’s educational, spiritual, civic, and social formation” and undermines “the role of religion and private moral teaching in society.”

UNESCO’s International Guidelines on Sexuality Education (June 2009 draft) attempt to, as it states, “assist education, health and other relevant authorities in the development and implementation of school-based sexuality education programmes and materials.”

According to UNESCO’s guidelines, “sexuality education is part of the duty of care of education and health authorities and institutions. In its simplest interpretation, teachers in the classroom have a responsibility to act in the place of parents.” It also refers to teachers, rather than parents, as “the best qualified and the most trusted providers of information and support for most children and young people.”

UNESCO’s Guidelines recommend to educators a “set of age-specific standard learning objectives for sexuality education” starting at the young age of five.  The Innocence Report expressed a concern that, consequently, “parents would lose the right to decide on the content, timing, and delivery of the information.” Parents would also lose the ability to choose how to talk to their child about this sensitive subject, warns the report, saying that “A parent may decide that her child can best learn the subject from her in a one-on-one setting, spread out over a number of years given the child’s emotional maturity and social environment.”

The UNESCO Guidelines are based on the Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education published by SIECUS, which also recommends age-specific learning objectives. The Center for Disease Control (CDC), according to its website, funds SIECUS to “provide Capacity-Building Assistance for Preventing HIV Infections” to “State and Local Education Agencies,” and also states that SIECUS “serves as a national voice for promoting sexuality education, protecting sexual rights, and expanding access to sexual health.”

Among the sexual education techniques SIECUS promotes are “developmental messages” on sexual orientation and gender identity. It suggests that children ages five to eight should be taught that “Some people are heterosexual, which means they can be attracted to and fall in love with someone of another gender” and “Some people are homosexual, which means they can be attracted to and fall in love with someone of the same gender.” It also suggests that children ages nine to twelve be taught that “Gender identity refers to a person’s internal sense of being male, female, or a combination of these.”

In defining a family, SIECUS guidelines outline that “Children may have a mother, a mother and a father, two mothers, two fathers, or any other combination of adults who love and care for them.” This is reminiscent of California’s Alameda Unified School District’s “school safety initiative,” which includes third-grade vocabulary such as “two moms” and “two dads,” stated the Innocence Report.

SIECUS guidelines also addresses religion, suggesting that teenagers be taught that a “person whose religious or cultural teachings prohibit contraception may have to decide between those teachings, the risk of unintended pregnancy or STDs/HIV, and his/her decision to have vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse.”

The Innocence Report investigates government attempts to usurp parents’ choice in shaping their own children’s values in a world that is increasingly “saturated with promiscuity, pornography and violence.”

Sarah Carlsruh is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.


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