Here's your place to come talk about sex and love whenever you feel like it.
I am, in many ways (including my love of diagramming sentences), a product of the Cherokee County, Georgia public school system.
Though I started at a private school because my birthday was a little late, by second grade I was swimming up the stream of public education, like a salmon headed for the spawning ground of knowledge.
Perhaps because it was the mid-80s, at what felt like the height of the AIDS panic, I went through a really comprehensive sex ed program that began in the 4th grade. It was age-appropriate information, at least by my standards. And it got more detailed as things went on. Spiraled instruction, people. It's a thing!
One of my favorite educational moments ever was in the 5th or 6th grade, when we watched a series of cartoons about both masturbation and wet dreams. They weren't, like, DETAILED cartoons. We weren't watching hentai is what I'm saying. But it got the idea across that masturbation was a thing and people did it and, oh, hey, no big.
I wish I could find the cartoon. There was this little gender-nonspecific (though probs intended to be male) character who got under their covers and then all you saw was a little bump under the covers moving up and down.
It took me a little while to realize that not everyone was given such a wealth of information; nor was everyone given an environment in which questions were encouraged. Sex ed classes are always awkward, but most of my teachers did a good job of letting kids know they were there if they needed questions answered. (My own mom signed my permission form each year and told me if I had any questions to be sure to ask the teacher. It worked out because my teachers were prepared for that.)
It was high school, in fact, before I realized that my sex ed experience was not actually the norm. I was a weird, misanthropic kid in a lot of respects so I didn't date anyway. Listening to the misinformation that my classmates had about sex was enough to convince me not dating was a great idea for the rest of my life.
Because, seriously, you can't get pregnant from swallowing semen when you give a dude a blow job.
Sex ed taught me that. But Republicans in Ohio don't want kids to know that -- and, in fact, don't want teachers discussing anything that can be defined as sensual touching. Ohio news sources also mention that the new proposal would allow parents to sue teachers who violate the ban -- with fines up to $5,000.
The ban also includes prohibitions on demonstrating condom use on anything that could be used for sexual stimulation (do we really have to go back to putting rubbers on bananas?) and mandates that teachers emphasize adoption for anyone who gets pregnant before marriage while discussing that having a child "out of wedlock" could be "bad" for "the child, the child's parents, and society."
The proposal is at least partially modeled on a similar law passed last year in Tennessee.
Now, I'm a knowledge-is-power kind of person. I also don't think you can force folks to do much of anything (as a general rule), especially kids. I really firmly believe in giving kids age-appropriate information so that they can make age-appropriate decisions.
For a lot of teenagers, those decisions are going to include decisions about sex no matter how much abstinence-only education is presented to them because abstinence-only education doesn't actually make people choose to be abstinent. That is to say: it doesn't work.
My general intense dislike of having people touch me or, you know, sit too closely to me or interact with me in almost any way that wasn't initiated by me aside, I was not interested in boning anyone because I had plans and those plans did not include doing it with anyone who didn't know how to work a condom.
When I was in high school, I lived primarily with my grandparents, who are LDS. This means I went to seminary every morning, kind of a before-school bible study if you need a point of comparison. I also was involved in youth-oriented activities a couple times a week. I spent a pretty considerable amount of time, in that way, with folks from church (both adults and kids my age). We got a really consistent, pretty standard religious message about not having premarital sex.
(Note: I'll say we were never told that having premarital sex would be bad for society. We were told it was about self-respect, which is probs about as positively as you can spin a message of abstinence for teenagers.)
In that context, specifically in a religious environment, an emphasis on not Doing It makes sense to me -- because religions get to have those beliefs.
But in an educational environment, like, say, a school, the emphasis is supposed to be on education. And I don't have a lot of sympathy for parents who think that the best way to prevent their daughters from getting knocked up is to keep them ignorant of how sex and sexuality work.
Even the basic biology of reproduction is getting dicey; an Idaho teacher is under investigation because he said the word "vagina" in class and included info on the biology behind the female orgasm.
I get that none of this is a new trend. It has long been a tendency of those who oppose sex ed to make out like certain body parts are themselves somehow responsible for sex -- the inner thigh can ONLY be an erogenous zone, only women's chests are sexy, and so on. (The Ohio proposal actually specifies that it is women's breasts that are at issue, with no mention of men's chests.) This is why no one really cares if we see a dude's nipple in popular media but a woman's nipple? That demands shock and horror!
But the idea that there are now provisions for parents to sue teachers if that teacher "condones" touching someone on the butt really freaks me out. Because it makes a class that is already a minefield of awkwardness into a battlefield where the people who really suffer wind up being the kids who don't learn shit from reliable sources.
That's the crux of it -- if kids don't learn about it in school, they're going to learn about it elsewhere. And the odds are good, that won't be at home.
Parents, especially in Ohio, do you really want Reddit to be where your kid learns about sex?