Compulsory sex education is a hotly debated topic that is divisive. Questions around the content being taught to students and even the curriculum undermining faith and religion are some of the concerns from parents. “Ignorance is bliss” is a old proverb often applied to this situation, saying that it’s better not to inform children about these sensitive topics, so they don’t have to worry about it . However, ignoring the sensitive topics will do more harm than good. The prolific growth of media exposure, risks of contracting diseases, and new information make it that much more necessasry for students to have sex education classes. Sex education classes should be compulsory because it informs all students about sex, helps them distinguish between fact and myth and allows for healthy development.
Many parents and guardians oppose of compulsory sex ed classes in schools. Certain parents have concerns about what material their child is being taught to, especially when it interferes with certain religious values/beliefs. Largely religious parents argue that the curriculum is age-inappropriate and culturally insensitive. They don’t want their children learning about things they object to, such as premarital sex, same-sex relationships, contraception, abortion and so forth (Picard, 2019). ‘What we are for is our sexual education and not the state’s sexual education.’, claims Raymond Ayas , a member of the Quebec Catholic Parents’ Association (Chin, 2017).
It’s the parents’ responsibility to inform their children about these topics. They know and understand their child best – so they know when the time is right and what exactly they are being exposed to . Different children mature at different levels, so it’s unfair for the ministry to teach them information they already know or they are not prepared to hear. They also believe that exposing young children to information about consent, different sexualities, and even different genders can be inappropriate and ultimately cause confusion.
Fatima Shah, a mother, says how she feels that “certain discussions are inappropriate. as well as how some of the themes are complex and apply to adults” (Parveen, 2019). Opposers also say that sex education can increase sexual activity among youth. Students should be able to choose whether or not to attend these classes. Students who already know information or even have no desire in engaging in sexual activity shouldn’t be forced to learn that.
Some parents and opposers of mandatory sex-ed curriculum may claim that it’s confusing and inappropriate, however, they fail to understand the true benefits of comprehensive sex education. It’s completely valid that parents have concerns about information undermining religion and faith. However, the primary goal of sex education is to inform students about facts. Whether it’s about consent, protection from STDs/STIs or even about puberty. At home, religious values regarding sex can be taught. Children are more knowledgeable about their own bodies and that belongs to them.
Moreover, educating a child on sex is seen as a responsibility for the parents. Yet, that does not mean parents will teach their children the necessary information. Religion and faith can prevent parents from teaching their child about protection or even certain sexualities. Also, parents may not be up to date on the current curriculum. As the curriculum is changing, teachers become more aware of what new information to teach students. Sexuality educator Nadine Thornhill says how knowledge about sexual health has progressed and improved over the past two decades and how teaching out of date information leads to misinformed children (Patel, 2018). Many students, if not most, are constantly exposed to the internet.
Internet content is filled with myths, unrealistic standards, and misconceptions that can easily give a child the wrong message. An important fact the opposition must understand is that the curriculum is based on different grade levels. Students in the first grade would learn about various body parts while fourth grade students discuss puberty. It’s not until the eighth grade when students are taught about the LGBT community and gender identity (Government of Ontario , 2019). Teaching the youth about the different sexualities and genders can allow them to be more accepting in the future.
Many LGBTQ students may not feel comfortable talking to family. Statistics say that the suicide rate for queer kids is four times higher than it is for kids who don’t identify as queer (Lindeman, 2018). Sex education classes act as a safe space for adolescents to ask questions or address any concerns. Also, the idea of sex ed leading to increased sexual acivity is completely false. Carolyn Temertzoglou, a health education professor at the University of Toronto, mentions how educating students about sexual health and development does not increase sexual behavior, but can prevent risky activity (Jeffords, 2015).
According to the national post, teen pregnancy has gone down in Canada by 36% during the 10 year period of 1996-2006 (Blackwell, 2006) . He also goes on to mention how the sex education curricululum played a role in the reduction. Mandatory sex education allows students to understand and be well informed of the different forms of protection and the possible consequences of not using it. When students are denied this knowledge, curiosity can take control and lead to a possible pregnancy, or even a deadly STD.
Compulsory sex education is extremely important, as it educates students about sex and risky behaviour, makes them aware about different sexualities/genders as well as allows for a safe future. The media can easily influence how students view sex and stigmas around it. Sex ed breaks down those stigmas and helps students to be armed with current knowledge and information.
Children get the chance to understand what healthy relationships are and how to reduce risky sexual behaviour. Parents may not be up to date on current information, leaving children misinformed, narrow minded and vulnerable. Compulsory sex ed programs ensure every student receives the correct, relevant information needed.