Carol Platt Liebau

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Good. There is going to be a reexamination of a Maryland school sex-ed program that would have "allowed teachers to initiate discussions with eighth-graders about homosexuality and included a video for 10th-graders on how to put on a condom."

I don't have children, but when I do, I don't want some public school teacher discussing homosexuality with them or teaching them the best techniques for condom use. Outrageous.

Of course, those in favor of such programs argue that students now won't learn about "the dangers of unprotected sex and the importance of tolerance for those of different sexual orientations."

But here's the thing. The "dangers of unprotected sex" should be secondary to learning about the many reasons -- physical, psychological, and emotional -- that high schoolers (much less middle schoolers) should not be having sex at all. Period.

My beef with sex education as it's currently understood in much of America today: It seems to assume that young people are like mindless animals, who can't learn to control themselves -- that it's inevitable they won't be able to resist sexual urges, and so those urges must be gratified. We don't assume that they can't resist the urge to smoke, to drink, to do drugs, to speed or to overeat. So why do we assume they can't resist the urge to have sex?

Certainly, some education is necessary, because not everyone will control himself or herself all the time. But, like our message about underage drinking/smoking, the message should be that underage and promiscuous sex is wrong. Yes, always. Just wrong.

As for the tolerance for homosexuals, one doesn't need a specialized tutorial on homosexual behavior in order to learn -- at school and at home -- that it is NEVER appropriate to mistreat other people, even if we disagree with their behavior. Why should such a lesson be provided specifically with regard to homosexuals? Why doesn't it apply equally to everyone?


Blogger Cecile Berlin said...

As Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said today to parliament, in response to the Catholic Church’s call for him to refuse to sign legislation allowing same-sex marriage:

"I will never understand those who proclaim love as the foundation of life, while denying so radically protection, understanding and affection to our neighbors, our friends, our relatives, our colleagues."

As you say yourself, Ms. Liebau, " is NEVER appropriate to mistreat other people, even if we disagree with their behavior." But the fact remains that such lessons are often lost on those who are more attached to moral judgement-making than to equal rights-legislating. Our personal and very human insecurities lead us often to judge rather than accept and understand.

Perhaps we all need private, as well as public, lessons in how to respect each other's differences.

5:37 PM  

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