There has been a lot of talk recently about how Toronto teenagers want more sex education. They’re asking for it all over the place, apparently, given the number of excited newspapers and blogs who are going on at length about it. And don’t get me wrong – I am so glad that adults are listening to teenagers, hearing their interests, and responding. But education doesn’t generally work like that. We generally don’t sit around waiting for children to decide en masse that they are interested in learning algebra before we realize the importance of teaching the language of representational math. Sure, if a particular person is interested in something, that’s often a great time to sit down with them and teach it.
But we should not teach sex education because teenagers want it.
We must teach sex education regardless of teenagers’ opinion.
If the country decides to include sex education in our standard curriculum because of teenagers’ expressed interest in sex education, it follows that if teenagers loose interest in the topic, we should stop teaching it.
There is clear pedagogical reasoning for teaching a complete, comprehensive sex education curriculum starting in middle school (younger in some places). I am frustrated that rather than tending to the logic behind it, the press is being swayed by some research results. (Again: Please don’t misunderstand me, if someone is asking for information, particularly about sex and sexuality, it clearly needs to be given. But this is just not the reason to do it on a massive scale. There are far better reasons for that.)