I hate this question. It’s a really good question but I really hate it… Screed follows…
In the movie, Parenthood, Keanu Reeves’ character, Tod, says this: “You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car – hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they’ll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.” (YouTube)
The question assumes that school is where children should be learning about sex…
Parents already teach their children about sex from day one. The problem is, what nearly all parents are teaching is that sex is fundamentally naughty, wrong, bad, dirty, embarrassing, dangerous and mysterious at best; and at worst a sure-fire way to burn in hell for all eternity. In other words, they pass on the disinformation they believe, thereby sustaining all of the lies and diseased thinking that we all suffer from all our lives.
Am I being too harsh? Too broad? Your parents weren’t like that? Granted, all parents are different to some degree… but don’t confuse being used to something with being over something… Fish may not be aware that they’re wet but they live in water so why should they think about it at all? We live in a deeply repressed world so we probably have only an inkling of what actual sexual liberation might be like.
Children can’t learn healthy sexuality until the people teaching them know something about it themselves. Parents should model healthy sexuality for children from infancy onward and schools could support that with knowledge and valid science according to the developmental stage of the child. This only works, of course, if the parents know about and actively experience healthy sexuality themselves and are not, in fact, butt-reaming assholes… erm, I mean… sadly ignorant people.
It doesn’t take much investigation to realize that sexually enlightened parents are the exception to the rule. Most, nearly all of our parents are, in my humble opinion, not… enlightened. Not so much…
Look, I’m actually trying to be kind here because… well… they are our parents, but I’m sorry: It is highly unlikely that you, dear reader, had parents with a fully positive experience of healthy human sexuality, and they probably didn’t raise you to feel unreservedly great about real human sex. Now, you may be the exception, but I’m guessing that you have long struggled with freeing yourself from various sexual hangups you learned at home, starting long before you were out of diapers… That is, after all, the world in which we live.
I’m not blaming your parents or you. A society can not shake off generations of institutional anti-sexual conditioning overnight.
It should be apparent that I have a pretty dim view of the prevailing level of sexual enlightenment in the “modern” world. We are altogether too developmentally retarded by centuries of aggressive cultural colonization by the “People of the Book” (Christians, Muslims and Jews). I see those religions as the principal font of virtually all sexual repression in our world today. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, it is a prime example of the cycle of suppression/obsession/maladaptation that twists us into knots. In many ways, religion wrote the book on sexual repression.
The profound influence of this tragic ideological malignancy is so thick in virtually all families and educational institutions that it couldn’t possibly be resolved without great difficulty and hardship. Healthy sexuality is only one of many aspects of genuine humanity which we have sacrificed to this ancient monster.
I do believe it is getting better. A lot better in some places, but I think we’re still some generations away from anything like real sexual enlightenment as a culture, and only then if we can free ourselves from the tyranny of these ancient religious proscriptions against it. The superstition that still rules so much of our lives keeps us from reality.
The reality I’m talking about: Our sexual impulse is fundamentally good, creative, integrative, connecting and fully, primordially human. Doesn’t exactly align with philosophies based upon a concept of “original sin” now, does it?
Someday, humanity may include cultures that understand and embrace our innate biological natures, and those natures will not be at odds with everything else we value and aspire to. Unless and until we finally grow up about sex and shed the obsolete, ideological scales covering our eyes, schools will just reflect and perpetuate our ignorance.
To end on a positive note, I really do think that we are part of the solution, those of us willing to embrace the most healthy expressions of human intimacy available to us and willing to exchange ideas about sex with each other, frankly and honestly. If we can drag humanity out of its long, dark night of sexual ignorance, our schools will naturally reflect and expand upon an evolving ethic of fundamental sexual goodness.
I’m a big believer in the ultimate victory of water over stone.