Editorial: sexual education

Sex is fun — people have sex and, more importantly, people have sex in ways that you may neither understand nor desire.

Sex Ed - Joshua Awolade online
Graphic by Joshua Awolade

This January the Internet exploded with joy as the entire series of Friends was put on Netflix. Many of us watched reruns of the show while growing up so the show holds a lot of nostalgic value.

However, this has led to something a little disconcerting about many of our formative years. Many Canadians learned more from Monica Gellar enthusiastically yelling “SEVEN” to describe sex to Chandler Bing than we did from our entire sexual education curriculum in school.

Ontario’s sex education curriculum has not been updated since 1998, but the underlying values of the curriculum are more distressing than the content itself. The 1998 curriculum, to anyone with a better understanding of sex than we left high school with, is about reproduction and disease.

They start by teaching the language of body parts and then describe how pregnancy happens, then what can happen if you don’t wear a condom (other than getting pregnant).

The process of getting to the sexual encounter and the joys of sex were always less important than the consequences of sex because the last thing the curriculum would want to explain is this: sex is fun. Three words that a vast majority of the human species would agree with and yet of all the things most of us are taught in school about sex, that isn’t one of them.

But this ideological problem does not stop with pleasure. The focus on reproduction and disease means that other important aspects of sexual health were never covered.

Everything from sex in same-sex relationships to masturbation to consent was glossed over, leaving millions of students to fend for themselves over the past 17 years.

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s new curriculum seeks to overhaul this problem by bringing comprehensive sexual education into the classroom.

From a very young age kids would be shown that it’s not weird to have two dads and that touching people without their consent is bad.

As the kids get older they won’t be taught sex in a preventative model, but in a model where they are informed about their bodies and desires without shame and guilt being attached to that.

I am obviously in favour of this change, but I want to address those Ontarians who are opposing this curriculum because they want to be the ones to educate their children.

Most Ontarians are parents and I understand the desire to protect their children. I understand they aren’t comfortable with the government stepping in to educate their children on this when they see them as a matter of values. The kinds of media their kids are being exposed to is already more explicit than Monica Gellar on Friends.

Kids are exploring sex at younger and younger ages and there is not a lot you can do to protect them from that except for letting them know what’s out there and empowering them to act in their own best interests.

For those opposing this curriculum because they think it will “turn their kids gay:” many of your fears are partially justified.

There is absolutely a correlation between kids knowing that being gay isn’t shameful and them coming out and identifying as part of the LGBTQ spectrums.

However that correlation has nothing to do with them “being turned gay.” Some of your kids are already gay and all this curriculum will do is teach them that they do not have to be ashamed of who they are.

Sex is fun — people have sex and, more importantly, people have sex in ways that you may neither understand nor desire. Ontario is making strides to keep our kids safe, healthy and empowered. And that is a noble goal to which we should all offer support.

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