Some schools take sex education too far

By Mona Charen: Syndicated Columnist

The sex educators in Montgomery County, Md., have devised a film for 10th-graders that features a young lady putting a condom on a cucumber.

You do wonder, when you read about these things, why they stop there.

After all, if the assumption is that kids are too stupid to know how to unroll a condom unless it is demonstrated for them, then why would they be smart enough to know that it goes on a penis and not on the contents of the vegetable bin in the refrigerator?

But guess what? They are indeed worried about that. Wendy Shalit, in a City Journal piece dating from 1998, described a New York teacher’s guide that urged ninth-grade health teachers to unroll condoms and stretch them out onto “two fingers.”

A “teacher’s note” reads, “Make sure that learning disabled and all students understand that a condom goes on the erect penis, and not on the fingers as demonstrated.” It’s impossible to satirize these people. For this, we are taking valuable class time away from American history, literature and science?

Most states derive their sex-ed curricula, in whole or in part, from the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, a group with a decidedly liberal view of these matters. SIECUS promotes sex ed starting in kindergarten, when children should be taught the proper names for body parts and the difference between good touch and bad touch.

In New York, kindergartners also learn the difference between transmissible and non-transmissible diseases, the terms HIV and AIDS, and that “AIDS is hard to get.” But the 5- and 6-year-olds are not left in the dark. Teachers tell them how people get AIDS, along with the information that “it feels good to touch parts of the body.”

I wonder: Do even New York parents want their kindergartners instructed on the mechanics of HIV transmission and offered early initiation into the pleasures of sexual touching?

Montgomery County was sued by two parent groups. It wasn’t just the erect cucumber to which the parents objected. The school board was modifying its sex-ed curriculum (already a document spanning 14 pages) in ways that even that Kerry-supporting, nuclear-free, recycling county found hard to take.

At one time, the new curriculum was going to feature information on flavored condoms. There’s something that will help the trade deficit! The cheery young lady who protects the cucumber also advises her audience of 14- and 15 year-olds that abstinence is the surest way to prevent pregnancy, but, “Buying condoms isn’t as scary as you might think.”

Read that, and then try to take seriously the sex educators’ claim that they are merely providing information for teens — not encouraging early sexuality. It’s impossible to know how much of an effect sex ed has on kids’ decisions, but it is interesting that even SIECUS acknowledged back in the ’90s that sex ed had not succeeded in reducing teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases at all.

Indeed, as Shalit observes, it’s possible to make at least a prima facie case that sex ed may have done the reverse. A 1991 study in Family Planning Perspectives found that instruction on contraceptives was “significantly correlated with an earlier onset of sexual activity.”

If sex ed were merely the birds and the bees, anatomy and a few cautionary notes about sexually transmitted diseases, even most traditionally minded parents would not object. But quite often the sex educators are much more ambitious. Montgomery County’s school board also proposed (before backing down in the face of protest) to teach kids that homosexual experimentation was normal. Even the revised curriculum still contains tendentious statements like, “Most experts in the field have concluded that sexual orientation is not a choice” and “American families are becoming more complex, and the greater variety of households encourages open mindedness in society.”

Middle- and high-schoolers would further be invited to explore their own sexual identity. They’d be introduced to the idea of transgendered individuals and advised that “biology is not destiny.”

It took a lawsuit to suspend the march of this brave new world in Montgomery County. A federal judge ruled last week to grant a 10-day restraining order against the school board.

Do you know what’s happening at your child’s school?

Mona Charen writes for Creators Syndicate. She may be contacted through the Web site: www.creators.com