What do I do when sex education comes up at school?
What would you do when your child comes home and tells you that the teacher was talking about condoms and birth control in his or her physical education class? As a parent, you're probably not comfortable with those topics being raised at your child's age, and without your knowledge or consent.
Parents can effectively and winsomely resist explicit, non-directive ("anything-goes") sex education in their schools, especially at the elementary-school level, by rallying together and speaking out.
And, you're not alone in your desire to see sexuality issues handled respectfully and with age-appropriateness in the classroom. A national survey of parents' and teens' attitudes toward sexuality and abstinence — conducted by a government agency — indicates that the majority of parents and teens believe sex should be reserved for marriage and that high-school students should not be having sex. Parents and teens want the highest standard of sexuality upheld in schools, with parents remaining the primary teachers of their values, religion and morals surrounding sexuality.)
Parents should always be the primary communicators with their children about sexuality, imparting beliefs, values, morals, ethics and family religious positions. No effective program can operate without the help, support and involvement of parents (guardians). Schools should want parental involvement and do everything in their power to make this possible.
The best option for sex education in the classroom is to teach and uphold sexual abstinence as the expected standard, while involving parents in discussions that teachers are having with the students. Giving parents the opportunity to "opt out" their children from sex education classes that are contrary to the family's beliefs is a good policy for schools to adopt. For more, see "Bad Sex Ed in Your School? What Parents Can Do."
Sex education programs generally fall into one of two categories: comprehensive and abstinence-centered.
Comprehensive sex education: Sometimes called "abstinence-plus" education, this is a non-directive approach – in that students are not given any moral direction about whether or not to engage in sex. This approach to sexuality follows a "if-it-feels-good-do-it" philosophy.
Key elements include:
Read more about "comprehensive" sex education and its lack of effectiveness.
Abstinence-centered sex education: This is a character-based, directive approach to sex education that primarily focuses preventing high-risk behavior, the core cause of unwed pregnancies and the spread of STDs.
Key elements include:
Read more about abstinence-centered education.
If you are concerned about what your child is being taught about sex in school, you should contact the teacher and school principal for more information and to express your concerns.
If you are unable to receive a satisfactory answer from the school principal:
If your concerns are still not resolved, consider removing your children from the school and either home-school or enroll the student in a school that will be held accountable and teach abstinence-until-marriage as an expected standard.
In Helena, Montana, parents rallied together to oppose an explicit K-12 sex-education curriculum. Several parents discovered their children were being taught explicit sex-ed material without parental knowledge or consent. They spoke to other parents, community members and their state legislators – and the momentum grew. Helena school board members received thousands of emails from community members, which resulted in the school board amending the curriculum to be “less objectionable.”
That wasn’t enough for Montana legislators who passed a law (HB 456) to give parents advance warning of sex education and to require parents “opt” their children into sex-ed programs. The bill would also have prohibited a school district from allowing any abortion-services provider to offer materials or instruction at school. Unfortunately, Gov. Brian Schweitzer vetoed the bill; however, the parents have vowed to keep up efforts to have more voice in their children’s sex education at school.
talk to your child about sex