In an interview with the Washington Post, a man who has dished out sex advice for 30 years in a syndicated newspaper column spoke a little about the dismal state of sex education in the US.
Dan Savage, whose column runs in The Stranger, told the Post this:
So while we have reported about the need to overhaul sex ed and make improvements, Mr Savage’s reach is a little greater than ours. Still, schools have generally not responded.
- Our student report from a suburban Illinois high school (2018)
- Our relay of a report about sex ed quality from the British Medical Journal (2018)
One would think, after at least three years of pleading from the research community, the student voice, and the mass media, that some improvements would be made to the quality of sex education in the US and around the world.
Not everywhere, anyway.
But one health teacher at a prestigious school in Manhattan gave it a try.
When parents found out some of the content of her curriculum, developed for kindergartners through 12th graders, she was sharply criticized and eventually resigned.
“I equip them with a way that they can exercise body agency and consent, by knowing exactly what those parts are, what they are called, and how to take care of them,” the New York Times quoted Justine Ang Fonte as saying about her curriculum for the youngest students. “That was paired with lessons around, what are the different ways to say ‘no’? And what’s the difference between a secret and a surprise? And why you should never have a secret between a grown-up and you. Because it’s never your responsibility as a child to hold a secret or information of a grown-up.”
“First graders need to be taught that other people don’t have a right to touch their bodies,” the Times quoted Jennifer S Hirsch, a professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and an author of Sexual Citizens: A Landmark Study of Sex, Power and Assault on Campus, a book that argues that campus sexual assault is a predictable outcome of several factors, including inadequate pre-college sexuality education.
“And just as importantly, they don’t have a right to touch other people’s bodies. How many politicians have we seen in the news who never got that lesson?”