By Sonia Verma
“Silly me! I have been teaching my son that if a girl says no, you exit politely and get the hell out of her space." —Alice Dreger, writing about an abstinence-heavy sex-ed class at her teenage son's school
A Michigan professor of bioethics and medical humanities sat in on her son’s high-school sex-education class and discovered that despite assurances that the students were not being taught “abstinence-only,” they . . . well, they were.
From her corner at the back of the classroom, Dr. Alice Dreger did what anyone with a belly full of indignation and access to wifi would—she live-tweeted the entire thing, including the part where students were told the girl who says “no” is the girl they want.
You can read her 45 laser-sharp tweets here, and if you are in the mood for a longer read, consider her article in The Stranger, where she describes how her son tried to present his research on abstinence-only programs, and—toward the end—writes about her regret for being “too busy” to get involved when the sex-ed curriculum was initially under discussion.
It seems particularly pertinent to Ontarians, who will see an updated curriculum taught as of this fall. Outraged Ontarians continue to protest about the changes, but the more kids know, the better they’re equipped to make good decisions, and to speak up if they encounter abuse.
My four-year-old knows the correct name for genitalia of both sexes, and even corrected a daycare teacher—as only pedantic little kids can, with smug delight—who cutely called it a “pee-pee.” While it is a body part that we keep private, we've told her its name is not a bad word, any more than “elbow” or “clavicle.”
Kids who are know the correct words for their body parts—private or otherwise—are better able to explain when they are abused, and less likely to internalize blame because they don’t feel that talking about or thinking about certain body parts, for instance, is wrong or shameful.
At least one momstown family is also welcoming the new curriculum: writer and blogger Louise Gleeson’s four children have all been part of an ongoing conversation about body science for years now, and she says it’s encouraging to know that schools will soon be helping equip kids to make informed decisions and behave responsibly. Read her post on the subject here.