From letter-writer Sandra Upeslacis of Toronto, to the Toronto Star, Sunday April 25:
My son, a Grade 5 student, calls the basic anatomy of the male body he’s been learning in class, “disturbing” and “embarrassing.” I wonder what he would say if Dalton McGuinty’s sex education plan, which intended to include oral, anal, and vaginal intercourse as part of the Grade 6 curriculum, was allowed to see the light of day. I’m glad that parents will have a say when the curriculum is revised. It is obvious those who wrote the failed plan have no clue about the true emotional and intellectual capacity of schoolchildren.
In an ideal world, Ms. Upleslacis and similar parents who managed to get the Premier to hastily shelve his Ministry of Education’s Health and Physical Education plan, would have their children educated about sex at an age when they’re all perfectly mature and accepting of such things. Their children would be well-learned about all aspects of sex and the human body, from the “disturbing” and “embarrassing” to the titillating and stimulating. To those parents, the argument against teaching sex education at an age when they’re not prepared, in the public school system, always goes back to the same refrain: “I’ll teach my kids what I want them to learn.” And it’s curious that if a boy at the age of 11 is disturbed and embarrassed as he’s on the cusp of puberty, when would be the ideal time for his parents to teach him about his anatomy and sex in general? When things have already started happening to his body, and he’s introduced to those subjects like a swimmer suddenly being thrown into the deep end of the pool?
In an ideal world, Ms. Upleslacis’ son et al. would not possibly be running into my daughter when they’re older. But the crazy thing is, it might happen. So why in the world would I want my children, later when they’re at an age when they’re ready to think seriously about sex, to be affected by friends or even partners with uneducated views on sex? I imagine that a relationship could only be negative, in which one person has an open mind about sex and sexuality, and the other person has an “Ewww! Gross! Disgusting!” attitude, and possibly passes his attitude on to others. Because if at the age of 11, you’re disturbed and embarrassed by your own anatomy, and your parent enforces that view, things aren’t going to get better any time soon.
I would love for everybody’s children to have access to sex education at an early enough age. (No, I don’t think that 12 is too young to learn about sexual intercourse, or 6 is too early to find out about families with two mommies or two daddies. I think that most children’s “emotional and intellectual capacity” can be well-developed, with the support of parents.) I’m sure that other people’s children would benefit from sex education taught thoughtfully in the public school system. But I’ve been a parent just long enough to know that no parent wants to hear what other parents want for their children. No, it’s for a purely selfish reason that I support the Ontario government’s proposed curriculum: I want my children to be in a world where they encounter others as educated and enlightened as they are, and don’t have to come face-to-face with peers who are disturbed, embarrassed, or ignorant about sex.