This year I am super excited to be celebrating my first Mother’s Day with my 4 month old baby girl, Alexa. As a new, first-time mom I constantly worry about my child’s health and well-being. I think that this is relatively normal and I just want to ensure that my daughter is able to have a happy and healthy life.
One thing that I can gladly remove from my list of worries is whether or not my child will know medically accurate, culturally competent, and age appropriate information regarding sex education.
I know this because I am already talking to her about it.
I know, I know, you are probably wondering what in the world this woman is telling her 4 month old daughter about sex!
Don’t worry I said age appropriate, remember? Why does this subject have to be so taboo in today’s society? Regardless of if you whisper, talk to your kids about sex at home. They will eventually learn about it, read about it, or even visually witness it at some point in their life. Often times, even before it is “talked about” (using air quotes) in the classroom. I’m using air quotes for a reason, I promise.
If my family is still living in Indiana by the time my daughter is in school, I know the following things about what kind of sex education my daughter is required to receive:
- The information does not have to be medically accurate. So basically you are telling me that my daughter could be learning that her vagina (internal) is the same thing as her vulva (external). Because we all know that the anatomy of our genitalia is not important. (I say this with sarcasm if you couldn’t tell!)
- The information does not have to be culturally competent. Do not even get me started on this one! In our ever-changing world where we are constantly fighting against binaries, it is still not required for information regarding sex education in our schools to be culturally competent. Maybe if we just shelter our youth they will conform to the heteronormative patriarchal society as it was intended for them to…..right? Or maybe the information doesn’t have to be culturally competent because a majority of schools are teaching an abstinence only curriculum rather than comprehensive sex education. Regardless, ignoring cultural differences when it comes to education is morally and ethically irresponsible, in my opinion.
The information does not have to be age appropriate. According to the 2016 Youth Risk Assessment Survey, 41 percent of Indiana teens are sexually active. With that being said, education on contraception is not required. The Indiana Department of Health has not revised health curriculum academic standards since 2010 which means that the current law is severely outdated. With loose requirements about what actually has to be taught in schools, it is realistic to assume that youth can be engaging in sexual activities prior to even learning about STIs.
Now that the rant is over, let me summarize. I will continue to have these talks with my daughter as she grows because I think that sex education should be a gradual but ongoing discussion.
Notice that I said discussion, and not a lecture. The infamous “Sex Talk” should not be a one-time awkward story about the Birds and the Bees.
It is my hope that my daughter will feel comfortable talking to me about sex as she gets older and that she can feel like she can come to me with her questions, however strange they may be!
Don’t let your child’s sex education be on your list of worries as a parent. I know that it will not be on mine.