OK class, who wants teens to go on learning sex in sheds?
Good morning readers. Look at me please. Eyes to the front. Andrew Bolt please bring whatever you’re playing with under that desk and put it on my table.
Thank you Andrew. Everyone settled?
Excellent. Today we’re going to learn about why it’s impossible to introduce a rational sex education curriculum into our 21st century schooling system.
Let’s begin with a simple example. The Victorian government – and let’s remember that state governments are chronically terrified of upsetting anyone about anything – recently made the bizarre decision to introduce sex education to students in Years 9 and 10 which asks them to actually discuss sex.
The sexual “acts” they are invited to consider range across all kinds of lewd and unnatural behaviours – ‘eye contact’ being a particularly potent example – and are detailed in a curriculum document with the characteristically catchy title: “Catching On”.
Teachers are even encouraged to ask students to discuss their own experiences and views on sexual practices, sexual ethics and intimate relationships. Clearly, that’s ridiculously sane. On what planet do these evidence-based sex education policy makers live? Naturally there’s been an outcry.
Sure there’s perfectly good evidence that around 50 % of teenagers are sexually active in some form by the age of 15. Sure a lot of young people in Year 10 are of the legal age of sexual consent. But do these sexperts really think we should be rubbing that legal reality in their faces?
Andrew, what’s so funny? Would you like to share your joke with the rest of us?
History tells us that sex education in Australia has no place in the classroom – apart from the usual alarming pictures of people cut in half with arrows pointing to weird reproductive and urinary bits.
Real sex education, as we know, happens behind the sand dunes, at the back of the school excursion bus, and at sleep-overs with your girlfriends where you get to practice tongue-kissing a door knob. That’s the Australian way.
Why complicate things for shock jocks and right-wing commentators by encouraging young people to talk about how they negotiate sexual encounters, to discuss sexual ethics and to think about how you ensure you have real consent? Why get them thinking – of all things – about how boys and girls might feel differently about the pressures on them to have sex and how they might be judged by their peers?
The next thing you know we’ll be opening the door to discussions about gay and lesbian teenagers and why they’ve been made completely invisible in the standard ‘here’s how you make babies’ personal development curriculum. And that would clearly upset our more homophobic commentators.
Excuse me George Pell. What’s that you’re mumbling under your breath? What about morality you say? Well of course a decent sex education program should include a discussion about values, including the potential value of abstinence. You’re not the only one in the room with a family or with values George.
Thanks for bringing up the topic of ethics, though, because clearly sex education should encourage young people to think about what’s at stake in just standing by while someone else is being mistreated or even sexually assaulted. You’ll remember we discussed the bystander issue last week when we talk about the way child sexual abuse was tolerated and ignored for so many decades by allegedly respectable authority figures.
That’s enough for today though because clearly the idea that our education system would introduce uniform, relevant and engaging sex education is a fantasy. The bell’s about to go. And may I remind you to refrain from sexting each other in the playground. Please leave that whole can of worms at home, preferably under your beds, where it belongs.
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