This Blog Entry was originally posted on the Sisterhood.
“His main premise is that young people will tune out educators if their real concerns are left in the shadows.” In the end, that perhaps was the most important line of all in the recent New York Times Magazine article, “Teaching Good Sex,” by Laurie Abraham.
The article described a course given by a beloved teacher in the Friends’ Central school in Philadelphia. What was unique about his curriculum (and for those of us in the field of sexuality it is a bit horrifying that it is unique, but really it is), is that his curriculum is not solely focused on safety — how not to get pregnant and what is a bad idea sex-wise — but also on how to incorporate sexual pleasure into one’s life. He also makes a point to answer the various complicated and messy questions the students have as honestly as possible.
So I’m a fan.
I would guess, though, that educators from institutions that consider themselves value-based (Jewish day school teachers for instance) may have had a knee-jerk, negative reaction to the article. Many probably feel that classes that focus on the joy and the pleasure, as well as the concerns and dangers, of sex might “send the wrong message.” The fear is that if you focus on pleasure and give out too much specific information, you are tacitly suggesting that teenagers run out and have indiscriminate sex.
That thinking is dead wrong.
Study after study indicates that the more information kids are given the later they become sexually active. I know that feels counter-intuitive. But maybe it’s not. Kids know about sex from the world they live in. They don’t live in a vacuum. If their only way of getting information is to try something, that’s how they’ll do it. If they feel that they have enough information, they will feel less of a pull to experiment.