New Health Education Curriculum
Thousands of parents kept their kids away from school in Ontario this week because the provincial government has developed the utterly bonkers notion that students should have some information about sexual activity before they choose to engage in it.
Why improve sex education for kids when they can easily access porn sites? ELIZABETH RENZETTI The Globe and Mail
I know, what are politicians thinking? It’s madness. We all managed fine with the random bits of knowledge that we cribbed from Judith Krantz novels, purloined copies of Penthouse, and that thing Scott’s teenaged cousin told him once, which he passed on in the baseball diamond but was too gross to be believed. Valuable, high-grade sex education was available at home, where, for example, I learned that my mother had been told by the nuns to place seven thicknesses of newspapers on a boy’s lap before sitting there. What more information could today’s kids possibly need, apart from “don’t try this with an iPad”?
The Ontario premier, Kathleen Wynne, and her education minister, Liz Sandals, plan to bring in the new health curriculum, which talks about issues of consent, body acceptance, gender identity and safety, in September. A minority of parents find this enraging. The last time Ontario tried to change the curriculum, in 2010, the government crumpled in the face of protesters’ fury like a potato-chip bag in a hurricane. Not this time, though.
I can see the protesters’ point: The world is changing too fast. Our children are reaching puberty too young. If we just keep them cloaked in the same half-truths, shame and misinformation we had, maybe they’ll stay children forever. If we squeeze our eyes shut and say, collectively, “there’s no such thing as a dick pic,” surely we wake up in Kansas again, to the smell of fresh coffee and the ring of the party-line phone.
Take the idea of consent. For many years “consent” was just a convenient Scrabble word when you had too many low-value letters in your hand. Why change things now? Under the new curriculum, students would be taught “about their right to refuse and about ways of showing affection appropriately and recognizing and respecting consent.” Why expose them to such dangerous nonsense in elementary school? They can learn about it themselves at the appropriate time and place: at a keg party at university, with pants off, after 10 beers.
There is no need for improved sex education when children have access to all the pornography sites they could want, available – and possibly even bookmarked – on their computers. Here they will learn that adult women are as hairless as Barbie dolls, as well-endowed as Pam Anderson, and that they achieve sexual pleasure merely by greeting a pizza delivery man at the door. As well, that a man in a state of arousal resembles a creature out of Greek mythology, half donkey and half jackhammer. They will gain the invaluable knowledge that every woman has been to a circus school that teaches sexual acrobatics alongside trapeze and clowning. These are the truths children will only learn outside of school, under the wise supervision of other 14-year-olds.
Many of the protesters have worried that there might be some classroom discussion, in later grades, about gender identity. Of course, there is a proper place to learn about trans people’s struggle for acceptance, and that is in the pages of People magazine, between a recipe for mimosas and Tori Spelling’s latest woes. Failing that, curious students can always learn how to smuggle contraband estrogen into prison by watching Orange Is the New Black, or how to tell your adult children you’ve been trapped in the wrong body for decades, as Jeffrey Tambor does in Transparent. This is how normal people learn about life, by studying the sacred texts of Hollywood. Why would we teach this stuff in classrooms when children can find it where it belongs, on their computer screens, after their parents have gone to bed?
Toronto’s former mayor, Rob Ford, has announced that the curriculum makes him “absolutely sick.” I think we should listen to the man. After all, he once talked about the lewd things he’d like to do to a rival mayoral candidate, and made on-camera jokes about oral sex with his wife, so he is a bit of an expert on what is sick and what is not. He might even be drafted as a guest lecturer for a seminar titled, “How not to talk to women” (Grade 6 and up.)
“A lot of this is pure perversion,” one irate citizen on Twitter wrote about the government’s plan, and it’s hard not to see her point. I mean, once you start telling first-graders that they possess a “vagina” or a “penis,” the end times are surely nigh. A person should not be taught to spell “testicles” until he’s old enough to use them. In the meanwhile, there are so many perfectly good words already available for our children to use. Consider leaving some old Harlequin romances around, and soon enough your kids will be referring to their “love pumps” and “jade gardens” instead of those nasty clinical words. As a bonus, this will keep them from actually wanting to have sex until they’re at least 60.
It’s a frightening old world we live in. Our appliances are already smarter than we are. Imagine if our kids were, too