Wednesday, May 6, 2015

An imaginary conversation with the health-curriculum-protesting Mom.

Dear Mom protesting the curriculum:

I know you worry about your children.You worry about them being exposed to the world too soon. You worry about all the bad things out there and I know this,  because I worry too. I understand the fear in your heart and I appreciate and understand you. While I feel the worry that invisibly binds all us moms together, I don't agree with your opposition to the revised health curriculum. I don't see it as the enemy but rather as a tool that will enable our kids to deal with the horrors in this world.

I know you are angry, confused and feel passionately about this. But, momma, please don't be that irate, caricature mom in the papers holding a sign which reveals her ignorance. Please don't be the sheep who follows that woman practically bursting with righteous and holy indignation. The one who swears to you that she has read the entire document (she hasn't!) and is convinced, convinced that there is a nefarious conspiracy to specifically corrupt your kids. You are so much more than that.

  So Momma, let's talk over a steaming cup of chai and hash out some of the arguments that are being thrown repeatedly and rowdily over and over again.

1. Its not age appropriate. I don't think my 12 year old should learn about masturbation, sexual consent and sexual activities and I don't want the school to bring mental health into this.

Momma, do you know the average age of puberty now? The American Academy of Paediatrics in 2012 conducted a systematic review (which means they looks at years and years of research) and put it at 9-11 for both genders. That means our kids are hitting that bewitching period between being our little angels to becoming sullen teenagers sooner than we think. Blame the environment, food.. toxins... Mother Nature declaring war.... I have no idea why its happening, but its happening!! Puberty is a strange, vulnerable time and its hard! Along with the obvious physiological changes, there is an explosion of new and alien emotions sweeping through their little psyches. In the worse case scenario, kids at puberty are vulnerable to bullying and developing life long mental health issues (heavy shit, I know). Thankfully, a majority don't have such traumatic experiences but at the least, ALL of them experience some sense of confusion and disorientation. Confusion about all the feelings that are bubbling over out of no where!  For boys mostly, it also means curiosity about sex.

Masturbation happens. Deal with it. With or without your consent, your boy will at some point masturbate. Instead of making him feel shameful or guilty, how about just dealing with it as you would with any other gross bodily excretion? It happens. Move on. No need to make it into a full blown expose. The curriculum is not teaching them HOW to masturbate..  that is a complete fabrication. It is just stating that it is a normal body function. that's all. Really. That is all.

Puberty arrives with curiosity about sex. We live in a world where a 9 year old can access pornography with a click of a button. You can be diligent at home, put in parental controls on your computer, laptop, tablets and I applaud your for that ( good going momma! I'm proud of you!). But what about when they go to a friend's place? Or a public computer ? Or camp?

I for one, would prefer that our kids know the risks and not believe the harmful and frankly dangerous information that they would other wise pick up from questionable sources. It is also a bit naive to think that they will not engage in sexual activity. My worry is, what IF they do get interested and want to experiment? You can bet you will be the last one to know anyway! What if they are under the misguided notion that STD's can only be shared through vaginal intercourse and not through anal or oral sex (BTW, that myth is absolutely incorrect and dangerously misleading)? What if they get pregnant? Or get someone pregnant? You and I both know that it happens. Even in our holier-than- thou, we never-have-sex communities.

 I know you will neuter their 'private parts' if they do anything stupid, but wouldn't it be better to make sure that they are at least safe? Stupid for sure. But safe. Please, go ahead and teach them all about abstinence. Hell, put the fear of God into them! Do it!  In fact,the curriculum is your ally in this regard. It advocates abstinence as the best defense.

 Tell them about your beliefs, your cultural norms. Talk to them. Its uncomfortable, but if they are getting curious about sex at 12 and not at 16, then what's the point of having the talk with them at 16? Not talking is more detrimental and I understand that you don't want to be compelled by the school to initiate this conversation in the first place. After all, your parents never discussed this kind of hanky-panky with you! But my sweet Momma, it a different world out there than what you and I grew up in and we have to accept that.

You are also worried that they learning about the birds and the bees in 3rd grade and its too early... My 3 year old  has already asked me about the origins of babies.. so I am going on a limb here, but  I am relatively sure at 8, they should be ready to accept that Mr. stock is not the post man for babies  arriving gift-wrapped in golden paper. I think they will be OK when they are told that he is simply just a gangly,  kind of dopey-looking bird.

2. Why are they teaching sex-ed in the first place?

Sex education has  been part of the curriculum since the 50's. This is a revision, and certainly not an addition.  From what I'm reading, sex-education in the 50's was WAY more graphic and yucky than it will be EVER be now.

3. I don't want my 6 year to know about their private parts and learn how to touch them!

Momma, why is naming their"private parts" any different from correctly identifying their hands.. or legs? Does teaching them to label their hands make them more prone to break them? The logic behind it is to teach the proper terminology AND most importantly to teach them that no one is allowed to touch them inappropriately. God forbid, if it happens and they are in a terrible situation, then they should NEVER be scared to speak up.

Do you know how many sexual predators live in Ontario?
Check out this site :

Its scary and sadly it happens all too often. We HAVE to protect our children.

PS: there is no touching anything... FYI

4. Why wasn't I involved in the change?

The curriculum was revised after extensive input from academics, teachers, parent advisory counsels and religious figures.  It is almost tripping over itself in its desire to partner up with the parents to provide the information in the most collaborative way possible. If you want to be more involved then volunteer at your school. Talk to your trustees and talk to your kid's teachers about the contents and how it will be presented within the mandated guidelines. Be involved productively and proactively, but please don't steam roll progress because it does not confirm to your beliefs.

5. This will encourage "gay" behaviour. It's a secret agenda by our lesbian premier to legitimize "gayness" (Honestly, I have no idea what you mean....).

Momma, this one is just silly. Talking about sexual and gender orientation will not make your child gay. Its like saying eating pancakes will make your kids gay. Being or not being gay is biological. If this is contrary to your beliefs then don't agree with it, that is your right. But what the curriculum is teaching your kids is to respect diversity, to respect and not judge someone on the basis of who they chose to fall in love with or who they are. It is a moral, fundamental value and most importantly, a human right.  If you are not white, then I can bet that at some point in your life you too have experienced or witnessed bigotry and you KNOW how deeply it cuts to your soul. Think about it. You cannot be against teaching respect. You just cannot. Don't let idiots who haven't even read the curriculum fan the flames of hatred and cloud your judgement. You are better than that.

As for claims of Kathleen's hidden agenda, the plans for a revision were in place much before Premier Wynne came into office. Ask your self, would you have brought in sexuality or questioned the integrity of the curriculum if the premier was an old, white, male fart?

6. Why am I being forced to go through this this? It violates my rights!

No one is forcing you. If you feel so strongly, you are encouraged to remove your child from gym class without consequences. So why the protest momma ? why?

Sweet Momma, we have so many bigger issues to raise hell about. Teachers on strike, increasing class sizes, the complete and utter dismantling of the French immersion system in Peel ( Sorry, that is specific to my region I know!) are issues that are way more relevant than protesting something that amounts to a highly sanitized class or lecture. These classes completely obliterate the X factor in sex. It's that boring! Please momma, keep talking  and listening. The curriculum is a good thing. Please see that.

Yours truly,

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