Boys Have Penises And Girls Have Vaginas – What Is Sex Education In Ontario Going To Look Like?
This past week, Ontario released a new Health and Physical Education Curriculum for 2015. This is the first such update since the mid-late 1990s and will cover important topics such as cyber-bullying, sexting and gender identities. What is sex education classically? Kids will also learn about the anatomical parts of sex and types of sex (oral, vaginal and anal) all of which has lead to confusion, anger and fear amongst parents.
I can’t imagine there are many 7 year olds out there that don’t know if they have a penis or vagina and that the opposite sex has the opposite organ.
Much of the fear stems from the early introduction of sex education for kids – even in grade one. Some have voiced concern that grade 1 students are far too young to understand sex and it’s implications. And I agree, but I can’t imagine there are many 7 year olds out there that don’t know if they have a penis or vagina and that the opposite sex has the opposite organ. Our 4 and 2 year-old sons know that they have penises and mommy has a vagina. Are we that scared of our kids knowing the real word for their genitals? More reasonably, in my opinion, is the objection that our children will be learning about oral and anal sex. But seriously, do we not think that teens in Ontario are familiar with these forms of sex? If we don’t teach it will they never know it exists? For the record, living a healthy, active lifestyle will also be discussed. Who can argue with that?
Are we that scared of our kids knowing the real word for their genitals?
As there seems to be a lot of misconception out there about the various changes and what is taught each year, I lay it out below. This is the new curriculum for sex education for kids and sex education for teenagers in Ontario.
Kids will learn to identify body parts such as penis, vagina and breasts. Using the correct terminology is key here. Why is it a bad thing to learn the real words? As a doctor I marvel that parents would rather their child use the word ‘dick’ or ‘va-gay-gay’ than the real word. How does using the real word change what they know? They still know they are private parts and different from their other areas. Let’s take back the word and take away the power and sensitivity the words bring. You aren’t embarrassed to say the word ‘nose’ are you? We all have genitals!
How does using the real word change what they know? They still know they are private parts and different from their other areas.
Basic life stages will be introduced, such as infant, child, adolescent and adult. Related bodily changes and healthy growth will be discussed as well. All seems reasonable to me. This is the sex ed I grew up on.
The uniqueness of each person will be discussed, such as body size and shape, cultural differences and gender identify. Some believe gender identity and sexual orientation should not be discussed in schools. I disagree – most children in Toronto likely know someone who has a different orientation or identity to them. Not discussing it doesn’t make it go away. In fact, there is great evidence that many children who struggle with their gender identity or orientation begin to feel isolated and alone at this early stage of life. I would love for this curriculum to allow these kids to feel normal and open up dialogue around these topics. Do you think discussing homosexuality will make someone gay? Rather, I hope it normalizes these topics and leads to better understanding amongst kids.
There is great evidence that many children who struggle with their gender identity or orientation begin to feel isolated and alone at this early stage of life.
Pubertal changes will be discussed, along with associated changes in growth body hair, voice and skin. The social and emotional impact of these changes will be taught. I think this is a great change. Many children are beginning to go through puberty at this age and may be too intimated or awkward to discuss with their parents. This opens the discussion.
Students will learn more about reproduction with words like ovaries and scrotum. They will understand how reproduction happens. I suspect as kids learn the biology behind baby making sex won’t seem quite as sexy.
One of my favourites: students will learn about homophobia, sexism, racism and prejudice and differences we have based on things like mental health, physical abilities and culture. Changing stereotypes will be a major focus. Hopefully kids will come out of this being more open-minded and less judgemental, a huge win in our society.
I hope this leads students to really contemplate why they might want to have sex, and why maybe they should wait.
Sexual activity as a consensual activity will be discussed. I suspect no one will debate how important this is. Types of sex, including oral, vaginal and anal intercourse as well as abstinence will be discussed. Partner communication will be emphasized, and social, psychological and emotional factors that play a role in deciding to have sex or not will be a focus. I hope this leads students to really contemplate why they might want to have sex, and why maybe they should wait. Harassment, sexting and cyber bullying will be discussed.
Students will learn about contraception and sexuallty transmitted illnesses (STI). Sexual orientation and genders will be described (male, female, transgender, transsexual, intersex and two-spirited). Evidence shows kids have a sense of sexual orientation and gender far before grade 8. Discussing the variety, I hope, will foster acceptance and understanding amongst all. Let’s normalize our differences!
STI and pregnancy prevention will be discussed. Students will further learn about stereotypes and stigma surrounding gender identities.
Expectations from peers and family regarding the choice to have sex are explored. Students will learn how to make the most informed decision around sexual activity. Let’s make mature choices!
Preventative health measures such as PAP tests, and breast and testicular health exams are discussed. Addictions and mental health issues are explored, such as anxiety disorders, gambling, depression and drug abuse.
Students will learn about sexual abuse and workplace harassment. Developing healthy relationships is the goal.
Students will be encouraged to learn about their bodies and how to keep them safe and healthy.
While it is true no sexual education plan will appease all parents and educators, I do believe this new curriculum makes some great strides. Students will be encouraged to learn about their bodies and how to keep them safe and healthy. Our various differences in sexual orientation, gender, religion and values will be explored, and open to discussion. Students will be encouraged to think through sex as an important life decision requiring thorough contemplation. Sexual abuse and other forms of sexual domination will be brought to the forefront to best recognize and squashed should they appear. Do I think kids are going to have sex sooner because of this curriculum – no, I don’t. Do I think some students will think long and hard about these important life decisions when they arise – I hope so. If anything, teaching acceptance and tolerance to people different from us may stand to help at least a few, and that is benefit enough for me.
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