Sex education in schools is not just about the physical and emotional changes of puberty, the basics of reproduction, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
There are two basic types of sex ed curricula. The type used in most secular schools around the world is commonly known as “Comprehensive Sex Education” (CSE) or “Sexual Risk Reduction” (SRR) education. The other is known variously as “Abstinence-based” (ABS), “Abstinence Only,” or “Sexual Risk Avoidance” (SRA) education.
Each of these approaches is based on a particular ideology:
CSE/SRR programs are based on the assumption that teenagers are inevitably going to have sex, and that it is their right to do so. Therefore they should know how to protect themselves from emotional hurt and from disease. To this end, pre-teens are taught that they must always obtain the consent of their partner before engaging in sexual intercourse and that they must always use a condom (or, for oral sex, a dental dam). Classroom lessons include practicing putting a condom on a banana so that they will be ready for their first experience of sexual intercourse. These curricula also present all sexual orientations as equally valid.
Dr. Miriam Grossman, an American pediatrician and psychiatrist, has reviewed sex education curricula used in secular schools in New Zealand and in Ontario, Canada. At a parents’ meeting in Toronto, Ontario, she said that these curricula are “not about health, but about molding the attitudes of children. The goal is to produce students who respect and affirm nearly any type of sexual lifestyle. Teachers will promote an ideology which has nothing to do with disease prevention and everything to do with sexual license.”
ABS/SRR programs are based on a completely different ideology: Sex is for bonding a man and a woman who have committed themselves to each other in marriage. Teens should be taught ways of relating to the opposite sex that do not involve sexual intimacy. In the words of one of the Love and Fidelity Network poster campaigns on university campuses in the United States, “Sex is about more than consent. It is about … attachment … a promise … trust … love …”
As parents, you need to be aware of what your children are being taught. Don’t abdicate your responsibility to teach your own children, assuming that their sex ed teacher is the expert and that you can leave this task up to him or her.