Last week, after a tempest-in-a-teapot on Twitter that covered birth control, comprehensive sexual education vs. abstinence-only, Title X, CEDAW, and political minorities vis a vis Madison’s Federalist Papers, someone tweeted, “The only thing a 5yrold should need to know about sex is...well...nothing.”
Shortly thereafter, I saw Logan Levkoff debating Peter Sprigg, of the Family Research Council, on Fox News over proposed curriculum changes in Helena, MT.
Did you catch that? Peter Spriggs is all a flutter over the possibility of teaching kindergartners “the names of the male and female sex organs.” In other words, teaching kids the correct names of their own body parts.
Mr. Sprigg would probably be horrified to know that my two-year-old knows the word "vulva." Why does she know that word? She pointed to herself and asked "What's that?" I gave her the correct answer, not a substitute word or slang term. To further push the FRC into conniptions: She also knows that boys have penises. Of course, she also knows her colors, other body parts (eye, ear, chin, etc.), the names of all Dora-related characters, and that Jupiter is the biggest planet (thank you They Might Be Giants). And that’s the point: Being able to name her body parts – genitals included – isn’t evil, or wrong. It is simply knowledge.
As she matures, we can broaden and deepen the discussion to include the purpose of those parts (both biological and pleasurable), gender/gender stereotypes, different kinds of families, birth control, sexually transmitted infections, respect, decision-making, and more. Comprehensive sexual education, both in school and at home, includes frank discussions, answers based on scientific data, and nonjudgmental language. It is better that my daughter learn from me, her father, and other trusted adults than from other (often misinformed) kids or the mainstream media which all too often paints women into an either/or corner of hypersexualized performance or icy prude.
I'd argue that a five-year-old needs to know the truth. They need clear, nonjudgmental answers to their questions. They need to know that their parent/guardian is willing to talk with them about topics they find scary, confusing, funny, or icky. They need to be assured that their parent/guardian will not force them to display physical affection (i.e., "Go hug your grandmother!") and that they should tell a trusted person if they are uncomfortable with any intrusion into their physical space.
Recognizing this, I have to ask: Mr. Sprigg and the FRC, why are you so afraid to tell your kids the truth?