Content Warning: mentions of abusive relationships, self harm, suicide, and childhood sexual abuse
I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many shocked faces I saw when someone who spoke to my politics class told us that in her church, they teach comprehensive sex-ed to children from the age of five and up. Everyone seemed disgusted, thinking that our speaker was talking about adults showing five year old children the classic STI images we were all shown in middle school and high school. What a failure the American sex education system is for everyone to think the only kind of sex-ed that exists is talking about genitals and STI’s. Sex-ed is so much more than that:
Proper sex education talks about queer sexualities. Even children as young as five can know they are queer, so it’s important we teach them from a young age that liking people of the same sex is okay. Plus, it’s incredibly common in today’s society for children to encounter queer adults more and more, and children need to be taught that that’s okay. Lacking in this knowledge can lead children to have a rough time realizing that they are indeed queer, leading them to make uninformed decisions once they reach the age of dating (because in my experience, even in a district with relatively decent sex education, high school sex-ed doesn’t even mention same-sex intercourse or dating) which can make them vulnerable and therefore more like to experience abuse.
Proper sex education also discusses gender identity outside of cisgender. Again, children this young know themselves a lot more than people realize, and they need to be able to know that they aren’t abnormal for identifying this way. In the queer community, especially the trans community, rates of self harm and suicide are astronomically high. A major contributor to this is confusion on who someone really is and nonacceptance. Sex education would not only allow children to be more informed on their own identities, but other children who may be cisgender have the opportunity to learn early on that their trans peers are no less “normal” than they are and that they deserve respect. Both the trans and cis communities would benefit from better sex education greatly. This also applies to education on different sexual orientations as mentioned earlier; kids are less likely to judge their peers if they were taught at a young age that there is nothing wrong with it.
Proper sex education, even for children, also will touch on sex a little bit. Obviously all language used should be age appropriate and not talk about the act itself. However, I’m sure everyone reading this would agree that childhood sexual abuse/assault (CSA) is an absolutely vile, disgusting act. Teaching children how to identify the signs that an adult might be making advancements on them is a way to help lower the rate of CSA; if a child can recognize that an adult is trying to do inappropriate things with them, they’re likely to tell a trusted authority figure about it and get out of that situation as soon as possible. The problem with not talking about sex at all with younger children is that they’re not taught to identify these signs, and then they don’t know to report the abuse to anyone. Educating children on this will get more of them out of these horrible situations.
Sex education is clearly something I am very passionate about and I think it needs to be talked about waaaaaay more than it currently is. Especially in the United States, public schools offer the bare minimum of it, and when they do it’s fear-based. Even when talking to high school students, they still tell us that the best way to prevent pregnancy is to abstain. Wow, it only actual statistics reflected this! Not that this is too much of a concern with five year olds, but it is crucial that they get the other information that I discussed here and continue to be taught about it throughout their schooling. Education is the tool to an accepting society.
Please share this if you agree, and comment below to share your opinion. Thank you so much for reading, I’ll see you all in my next post!