Hey, public schools: it’s time for a separation of sex and state

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**Warning: some graphic language in this post.

I don’t think public schools should teach kids about abstinence. I don’t think they should teach kids about condoms. I don’t think they should teach kids about birth control pills, or virginity pledges, or sex before marriage, or sex after marriage. I don’t think they should teach kids about any of the things on this poster:

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Oral sex, sexual fantasy, touching each other’s genitals, anal sex, vaginal intercourse, grinding, masturbation — those all appeared on “teaching material” for a sex-ed class at Hocker Grove Middle School in Kansas. They claim this was actually part of an abstinence program, and that the photo is taken out of context.

Personally, I don’t need context. I don’t think public schools should be teaching kids, one way or another, in any context at all, for any reason whatsoever, about any of those things.

I don’t think anyone should be sending their children to government buildings to learn about the perils or pleasures of intercourse or masturbation or sodomy.

I don’t think government schools should teach kids about sex.

It’s really very simple. How much sexual guidance and instruction should the government offer our kids? None. What percentage of your child’s government education should be comprised of sexual enlightenment? Zero percent. How many times in a given school day should the phrase “genital touching” be uttered by a teacher to a classroom of students? Less than once. Actually, let’s be safe and say zero.

This, my friends, is the Great Compromise. Instead of arguing about WHAT the schools should tell kids on the subject of sex, let’s contemplate the possibility that a collective, government-controlled, mass produced and disseminated “curriculum” about sex and intimacy isn’t necessarily the best way to handle such a profound and personal subject.

I’m not saying that we should put censor bars over the penis and the vagina in the anatomy textbooks (or in books of Renaissance art, for that matter). I’m also not saying that high school biology teachers should tell their 16 year old students that a magical stork drops the baby off on momma’s porch. And I’m not saying that students shouldn’t learn about the facts of human reproduction when the subject comes up in science class.

I’m saying that the schools ought to treat sex the same way most people think it ought to treat religion, and for the same reasons. The “keep religion out of schools” folks will argue that schools should not endorse a particular religion. They shouldn’t condemn or condone the teachings of any particular religion. They shouldn’t encourage kids to be religious or irreligious. They shouldn’t incorporate religious orthodoxy into the curriculum. They shouldn’t ask kids about their personal religious practices. They shouldn’t have “religion classes.” They shouldn’t advance any religious agenda. They shouldn’t attempt to influence the religious beliefs or practices of the students.

In these ways, we should “keep religion out of schools.” However, the reasonable ones will certainly be quick to acknowledge that the FACT of religion shouldn’t be censored or avoided. You can’t very well give your students a comprehensive understanding of western history without discussing Christianity. You can’t provide a well rounded education about literature without introducing the Bible, which is the most influential and widely read piece of literature in the history of mankind. You can’t teach about art and avoid religiously inspired paintings and sculptures. You can’t talk about contemporary Middle Eastern conflicts without introducing Judaism and Islam. You can’t teach the history of Asia without Hinduism, or Buddhism, or Taoism.

Religion will inevitably be a part of many other subjects, but it shouldn’t be its own subject, and schools should never attempt to teach kids how to feel about, or what to do with, religion.

In that sense, and only in that sense, can you make a coherent “keep religion out of schools” case. And it’s in that sense that I make my case for keeping sex out of schools. Anatomy will come up in anatomy classes, and reproduction will come up in science classes, but that’s where it ends.

“Comprehensive sex education” is a sham and a joke. It’s also more than just a little creepy. If an adult in ANY OTHER CONTEXT came up to your child and tried to strike up a conversation about “self-pleasure” or “oral sex,” you’d likely have … uh… “words”… with him, and then words with the police.

I fail to see much of a difference.

The schools are in a pretty enviable spot here. They can institute a certain policy, and if the policy fails they can turn around and blame the parents. This has become a tried and true strategy throughout our society.  Just blame the parents. Bad parents! Bad parents! Bad parents! Keep screwing up and ruining generations of children with your corruption and ineptitude, and if people start to complain, simply repeat that refrain. Bad parents!

So as “comprehensive sex education” has become more commonplace, and as the schools’ message about sex becomes more progressive and permissive, we can look around us and see what’s happening:

Out of wedlock birthrates continue to climb, now pushing 40 percent as a national average. 110 million men and women have STDs. The divorce rate remains tragically high, tempered only by the increasing number of young people who have sworn off marriage entirely. Kids turn to porn at younger and younger ages. People in general are less capable of finding and maintaining healthy romantic relationships. Over 250 thousand people are raped or sexually assaulted every year.

It’s a grim picture, to be sure., and I certainly don’t blame it all on the schools. You can’t pin something like this on any one culprit. But, at the very least, our mission to give kids a “progressive” government sex education doesn’t appear to be accomplishing desirable results.

Sex-ed proponents will joyfully celebrate the decline in the “teen birth rate,” as if the statistic immediately indicates a positive cultural development. In reality, it CAN be a good sign, but consider that a million babies are aborted every year, and this is one way that some of these teens escape being a “teen birth rate” statistic. Also, some studies will absurdly compare teen birth rates from SEVENTY YEARS AGO to current rates. Sure, there were more “teen births” back then, but do you know what else was more common? Teen marriage. The average age for a woman to get married in 1940 was 21. That means many of these teen births occurred within the context of a loving marriage.

The more relevant statistic to analyze is out-of-wedlock births, regardless of the age of the woman. In that particular race, we crush the competition. And it’s not even close.

None of this matters, though. The evidence against government sex-ed is deflected and used to once again indict parents and families. The indictment of parents and families is then offered as proof that we need more of the thing that’s clearly contributing to the problem it was allegedly designed to fix.

Parents are incompetent and incapable of teaching their children, and the schools will save the day! We’ve been hearing this for years, yet the schools haven’t saved anything. They’ve only exacerbated the problem, but they escape scrutiny because it’s more popular to keep the fingers pointed at those pesky parents.

It’s true that some parents aren’t willing to talk to their kids about sex, or they are but they aren’t very good at it. So what? The schools are even less competent, and it isn’t any of their business.

Aside from the strictly anatomical matters and the purely scientific aspect of human reproduction, it is impossible to discuss sex without attaching a set of moral lessons to it. Unless you’re a robot with robot children, when you teach your kids “about sex,” you’re also teaching them what sort of attitudes and perspective they ought to have on the matter. This is a good thing when you are the parent and they are your offspring, but when you are a teacher in a government school, and they are other people’s kids, it’s highly inappropriate. You are trespassing onto territory where you don’t belong.

Let parents teach the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” of sex, and let churches moralize and sermonize about it. The government has no role here.

This subject belongs to parents. It is their domain. If they shirk their responsibility, then I feel sorry for their kids. Still, public schools are not surrogate mothers. Lazy, selfish parents might want them to be, but that doesn’t change anything.

So while progressives take the Ten Commandments and the crucifixes out of the schools, I’ll come in right behind them and clean out the condoms and the birth control brochures. And then we can meet in the parking lot and swap. I’ll take my religion home to my kids, and they can take their sexual permissiveness home to theirs.

Meanwhile, the schools can stick to the ABCs and 123s, and we’ll all be better for it.

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