I have a three-year-old daughter and a son due just about any day now (when he's born, I'm going to take a short pause from writing a weekly blog for rabble.ca and simultaneously bask in the glow of my new baby and suffer from severe sleep deprivation).
I always enjoy how hungry children are for knowledge and information. But when it's not forthcoming, they, like many humans, fill in the gaps. A tremendous faculty for imagination coupled with unanswered questions produce observations from children that have long delighted adults. My daughter, not fully understanding the female reproductive system and wanting to be like her mom, is convinced that she too will be giving birth. When told that she won't be having a baby just yet, she defiantly and assuredly tells me that as a female, she certainly can have a baby. It's daddy, the male, who's out of luck. At least my explanations about human reproduction have taken me thus far.
Eventually, she and her soon-to-be brother will have questions about penises and vaginas and human reproduction and breasts and these questions will be more frequent (because in our household we encourage inquisitive minds and questions) and more sophisticated. And where my wife and I fail to provide a satisfactory answer, the kids will turn to their friends, the internet, or their imaginations.
Kids should be treated as intelligent beings while presenting information in terms they can understand. This is why I welcome the new sexual education guidelines presented by the Ontario government.
Further, there is a significant amount of research that indicates that when children are taught the facts of life they make better decisions in their own sexual lives.
Cue the perennially-angry Christian right. Fancying themselves the champions of families (same-sex families are not covered, natch), they became vein-bursting apoplectic when they caught wind of the new sex ed guidelines.
The Christian right's de facto leader and personal chum of the Prime Minister (or so he seems to fancy himself on both accusations), Charles McVety, presumably has no qualms about terrifying small children with talk of hellfire and eternal damnation, and other nasty nonsense associated with his set of beliefs, but chatting about sexual orientation to an eight-year-old? The horror. Further, McVety's god is disturbingly preoccupied with human sexuality and he is a vengeful and angry creature, especially if you pleasure yourself or take a same-sex partner.
McVety, a man from the sepia-tinted past, is someone who believes that Johnny can be turned gay: "Now, most adults do not question their gender identity. But we're now going to teach little Johnny to say, 'Well, I'm male on the outside but maybe I'm a girl on the inside'".
You see, Johnny was perfectly happy threatening girls with snakes, playing baseball, and being obedient to his parents. But after that discussion about how gays and lesbians are people too, well Johnny is inappropriately touching his male friends, likes to wear dresses, and has become too free-spirited and independent. What an odd and frightening world McVety and his ilk occupy.
McVety says that parents should decide what their kids learn. Perhaps I can see his point. For example, I don't want my children to be taught the white colonialist version of Canada's history or the glorification of war. I don't want religion anywhere near science (McVety et al relish the thought of creationism being taken seriously and taught in classrooms). I don't want my daughter and son to be told more about dead white men than about the women and First Nations and Metis and Inuit and gays and lesbians and blacks and Asians who have contributed tremendously to the building of this nation. And I want my children to know that human sexuality comes in a variety of flavours, that masturbation isn't evil, and that gays and lesbians, despite McVety's convictions, should never, ever, ever be subject to discrimination.
McVety and friends are planning a protest rally on May 10th.
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