What's being taught in your child's sex education class?Written by Linda Klepacki
What's inside this article
Few things in God’s creation are as personal as sexuality. When such subjects are taught in school, it’s understandable that parents may feel the need to protect their children.
Many schools are filled with superb teachers and administrators who care deeply for children and seek the highest standards in health education. But others have bought into cultural lies about sex, and some even promote sexual experimentation. No matter what your child’s school teaches, you are your child’s best advocate.
To find out what your child will be learning, call the school and ask when (not if) you can look at the materials that will be presented. Read through the curriculum and watch all the videos, then write down questions or concerns.
As you look through these materials, be aware that there are two differing philosophies in school-based sex education. Abstinence-until-marriage educators believe that the safest choice is to remain sexually inactive until marriage. Contraceptive-based sex educators believe that all people have, as a human right, the choice to become sexually active at whatever age they feel is best for them. Look for clues in the curriculum as to which approach is being used.
Attending the course is another way to know the curriculum. If you ask the teacher about sitting in on your child’s class, understand that he or she may be hesitant for your child’s sake. Some children feel uncomfortable with their parents attending a classroom presentation. Attending a different class than your child’s may be a good option.
Be aware of hot topics in the curriculum, including gender issues, abortion, contraceptives, homosexuality, cohabitation, pornography and alternative sex practices. Consider the viewpoints presented and whether they are taught in a way that undermines your family’s values.
After reviewing the curriculum, voice your praises or criticisms by respectfully moving through the proper chain of command. Make an appointment with the teacher; you can learn a lot about his or her beliefs through simple dialogue.
When talking with the teacher, you might ask:
- "When do you think is a good time for youths to become sexually active?"
- "Do you believe it’s important to teach children about contraception?"
- "How realistic do you think it is to wait until marriage to have sex?"
Research has shown that teachers who do not believe in their subject matter will not teach a curriculum fully or effectively. So be aware of the teacher’s bias either for or against abstinence-until-marriage education.
If you are concerned about the teacher’s approach to the material, you may want to speak with the principal. Share your thoughts and concerns about the course.
If you are not satisfied with this dialogue, go to the next school-board meeting and ask to speak. Try to bring other like-minded parents with you; they can lend strength to your arguments.
If going up the chain of command doesn’t produce the desired results, you may choose to excuse your child from attending the classes. Ask the principal what steps you need to take to implement this decision.
Some schools will have an "opt-in" policy and some will have an "opt-out" policy. Opt-in means that parents must sign a permission slip to have their child included in the course. An opt-out policy means that they must sign a form to have their child taken out of the course.
Parents who choose to opt out, or not to opt in, should keep in mind that their child will still learn about sexuality from someone. If your child doesn’t learn accurate information from you, he will learn inaccurate information from his peers, the Internet, TV and other media. Children learn best from Mom and Dad.
If you are comfortable with the curriculum and decide to let your child participate, be sure to also teach your children at home about God’s design for sexuality. Apart from advocating for your children in the school, teaching and modelling this beautiful design for intimacy in marriage is one of your most important responsibilities.
Whatever you decide about your child’s sex education, don’t be afraid to voice your concerns or act on your convictions. You know better than anyone what’s best for your child.
Linda Klepacki was the analyst for sexual health at Focus on the Family in Colorado at the time of publication.
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