User:Woozle/Nextdoor/conservoids/Rosie Rosenbrock/sex ed

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Taking your questions in order:

1. "At what age would you begin sex education?"

Short answer: I'd ask a sex education teacher. Or a panel of sex-education teachers. They have the experience and understanding to know what works best.

Longer answer:

I'd say it should start as soon as the child is old enough to ask "where do babies come from?", but paying attention to what the child seems ready to take in. I'd also say it should absolutely start *before* puberty -- age 11 at the latest.

When I was in kindergarten, 1970 or so:

I remember my mom, who was trained as a biologist, explaining to me that women have eggs which get fertilized somehow (the exact process was left quite vague); I imagined a baby-sized egg inside a woman's body (she was clear that it would be inside the *womb*, not the stomach)... so that was only a *little* bit helpful. I had no idea that intercourse was a thing.

We kept chickens for a year or so... and I asked why none of our eggs had chicks in them. She gave me an explanation which never mentioned how fertilization happened -- and since I couldn't figure out how you could fertilize an egg while it was still *inside the mommy chicken* (plainly ridiculous), I was left with this vague idea that the rooster did something to the egg *after* it was laid... I think she was embarrassed to talk about it.

By age 5 or 6, I knew there was something unusual about me and it had to do with gender, but I didn't know the word "gender" yet. Knowing that would have been helpful.

When I was at Durham Academy, 1972-1979:

I remember, maybe as late as 4th or 5th grade, coming up with the idea of homosexuality: what if a boy grew up to be interested in other boys, instead of girls? My mom basically dismissed that idea. Some LGBTQ+ education would have been useful at that age... not to mention knowing the meaning of certain words that the other kids at DA liked to yell at me, claiming I was one.

It would have been nice to know what they were accusing me of being, not to mention why they thought that was bad. It would have been even better if they had known better than to think it was bad.

We were given sex ed in 5th grade -- when it felt like just another subject, if a bit squicky in places (a lot of biology is squicky, not just sex) -- and again in 8th grade. 5th grade does not strike me as too early. A lot of kids would be ready for it, or parts of it in younger grades, or even kindergarten.

My partner's history:

At age 13 or 14, early 1970s, Sandy was scared that she might have become pregnant after sitting in a boy's lap. She knew nothing about contraceptives or how reproduction happened; the Catholic Church is largely but not entirely responsible for this obfuscation.

Her first sex education was in public school junior high, 7th or 8th grade, it was combined with "drug education", and students had to have written parental permission to take it. It was "clearly wanting", in her words: they talked about sperm and eggs, but never mentioned intercourse. They mentioned sperm "swimming" -- maybe the sperm swim across the bed?

That's how bad sex ed was in the 1970s, and that's why lack of sex ed can indeed result in unwanted pregnancies (I think we agree there) -- although rape is still a thing, and no contraceptive is perfect, and people sometimes make mistakes... so sex ed alone won't prevent them all, though it certainly does make a big difference.

The sooner we can start absorbing the concepts, as children, the more comfortable we can be confronting the real issues that sexuality and reproduction pose to us as individuals and as a society. And yes, those issues can be heart-rending -- but we need to grapple with them honestly and informedly.

Some people apparently believe that "the body has a way of shutting down" pregnancy if it's by rape, which simply isn't true. That's another reason we need sex education.

The more sexuality is a topic that can be and is discussed openly, around children of every age, the harder it will be for anti-sex-ed institutions to keep kids from learning about it, or to indoctrinate them with false beliefs about it.

...but I think we're in agreement about the need for it; I just wanted to emphasize some specific points about why and when.

2. "What topics would you cover?" At a minimum:

a) how the sperm and egg get together
b) contraception and safe sex, and at least strong hints that unwanted pregnancy is a big risk to run, for many reasons.

I'm not sure about what age to really dive into the anguish of unwanted pregnancy and the facts and moral issues surrounding abortion, but that definitely should be covered as soon as kids are ready for it. I'd be interested in hearing from experienced sex-ed teachers on this question.

3. "Do you have experience as a care giver to base those opinions on?"

"Yes. Yes I do." -- Phineas

My daughter was born in 1994. I was her primary caregiver (feeding, changing diapers...) at least until she started daycare, and quite a bit thereafter. My then-spouse and I had a policy of openly and honestly answering any questions she had about reproduction. I don't remember specifically what she asked about, but it was never a problem. She's now gainfully employed in Atlanta (she's far better at the employment game than I am!) and I am very proud of her.

My partner's kids were born in 1982, 1992, 1997, and 1999; the first one was already an adult when we got together in ~2002, but I became co-parent for the other three. (They call me "SecondMom" :D) Again, we answered any questions they had, including questions about our own histories with sex and gender.

We were always in favor of any sex ed any of our kids received at school, and sometimes got into discussions about what they were learning.


If I've left anything unanswered, please let me know.