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Gifted_With_Languages's avatar

Should schools teach students about sex?

Asked by Gifted_With_Languages (1123 points ) September 19th, 2013

What about moral issues surrounding sex?‎

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51 Answers

longgone's avatar

Yes, of course. We are not going to rely on parents there, are we? Far too many people are uncomfortable speaking about sex, and even more so when talking to their children.

I think teachers should have the opportunity to opt out, though. If they are nervous about the issue, they are going to do more harm than good.

Seek's avatar

Absolutely. It should begin with identifying sexual feeling, discuss the basic mechanics, identify what constitutes consent, identify what constitutes abuse, discuss pregnancy and STI effects and prevention, and even how to talk to one’s parents about acquiring birth control and condoms. There should be resources available to assist any student that feels they have been a victim of sexual abuse. I also want an information campaign covering the basics of LGBTQI issues, and bullying prevention.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I think they should teach kids about sex, yes. Reproductive health should be taught earlier than it is. Teen pregnancy and STIs are way too common, and we should make sure the kids know what’s going on down there. Who knows if mom and dad are doing their job?

Should morals about sex be taught in school? Absolutely not. That’s the parents’ job 100%. School is for learning facts, not instilling a moral code. Who says that teacher’s morals match what the parents are teaching? Confusing the kids isn’t a good place to start.

rojo's avatar

Yes, the basics and mechanics of it should be outlined. Leave the morality of it to the parents and larger community.
My sex education in high school was in an 9th grade health class taught by a coach and it went like this: “What you guys don’t about sex you will learn about in the next few years and what you don’t learn, you don’t need to know. So, let’s move on to…...Sports Injuries”. Yep, would have been better if ye could have opted out like @longgone mentioned and let someone less uncomfortable with it actually teach us something.

In a related question should it be taught is sex specific classroom settings or in a classroom of both males and females?

marinelife's avatar

Morality should not be taught in schools, because it is a personal decision. The chosen morality to teach is the parent’s choice. basic facts and how to protect yourself should be taught in health class.

JLeslie's avatar

With no question sex ed should be taught in school. We just had a recent Q, I can’t find it, about a dad who was hoping the school sex ed was enough, and hoped he didn’t have to have the “talk” with his child. As much as we think parents are more open with their kids now, there are still people who want to leave it up to someone else.

Not to mention parents do not know all the answers. I have tons of peers who still don’t really understand when and how babies are made. Recently we had a doctor on here who seemed to not understand conception happens in the fallopian tubes during the egg’s decent from the ovary. Parents may not know about new types of birth control. Single parents might not have all the information if their child is the opposite sex.

I think schools should teach the anatomy and physiology, just like they do for all our body systems, and parents should teach their children about respecting each other and whatever their values are regarding sex.

longgone's avatar

^ If teachers manage to approach the topic calmly, I think teaching boys and girls together is fine. Yes, some kids are going to feel uncomfortable, but that is all the more reason to take the mystery out of it all.

Once, in eights grade, a teacher had us write down questions anonymously. This was not in health class, but I’ve always thought it could be used there… Everyone felt free to ask what really interested them, listened intently for the answer to their own questions, and the teacher was able to plan the following lessons, covering all the topics students were unsure about.

Seek's avatar

I think basic morals are fine.

Don’t rape people.
If you are raped it’s not your fault and here’s where you can go for help.
Don’t bully people who are different from you.

…I mean, unless you also want to argue it’s the parent’s job to teach whether the child should be a racist.

longgone's avatar

I agree with @Seek_Kolinahr. All of you that said to leave morality out of it…do you think that’s entirely possible? What if a student approaches a teacher with a question? There are lots of children who don’t feel comfortable talking to their parents.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Now that you mention it, it might be worth teaching teens they can be labelled a sex offender for life if they sext and similar laws.

JLeslie's avatar

@longgone A teacher can always refer the child back to their parent if the questions really become about morality and values surrounding sex. I don’t think a teacher should be telling kids whether or not it is ok to have sex before marriage.

rojo's avatar

True @JLeslie.

I know someone who could not get a job with a police department because 10 years earlier he had gotten in trouble for sex with a minor. Boyfriend and girlfriend. He was 18 at the time and she was 17. No charges were filed, no court hearing but it is there in the record.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Rape is a crime – as is sexual assault, harassment, etc. These aren’t strictly moral issues. “Rape is wrong” is a fact, regardless of your moral code. Therefore, it should be taught in school. And I’d argue that tolerance and anti-bullying aren’t strictly moral issues either.

@longgone Would it be okay for a teacher to tell a student they shouldn’t have sex until marriage because it’s a sin? No. It’s not his or her place to tell a kid that. If you allow some morality to be taught in school, where do we draw the line?

Morality is up to the parents, friends, family members, and environment, and the child him/herself. It has no place in school.

ucme's avatar

Yes, yes it should.

longgone's avatar

@JLeslie
They can, yes. If the child is not able to talk with his parents, though, his question won’t get answered. Anyway… I was not thinking of questions like whether sex before marriage is okay. I was thinking about more basic stuff, such as consent, peer pressure – see @Seek_Kolinahr‘s post.

@livelaughlove21
Rape is a crime because it is morally wrong. Still, it is not “a fact” to everyone. You argue it would be impossible to draw the line as soon as you discuss any moral issues in school, yet you have drawn a very clean line, yourself. Incidentally, it’s close to my line… You’re just defining “moral” differently.

snowberry's avatar

I never liked how our public schools taught sex ed. One reason we homeschooled, then in private schools after that.

JLeslie's avatar

@longgone I actually don’t know where I stand. My argument to the people who don’t want sex ed taught in school has always been that I think our sex organs should be taught just like our digestive, cardiovascular, nervous, and other systems in our body. I can’t tell you how many people I know in my generation who had no clue when they graduated school. If we keep to teachers are just teaching the physiology then we, I, can stick with that argument. Regarding laws, well, laws are laws and I think we can teach those in school also. In terms of peer pressure and consent, children deal with that in more than just the sex realm. They deal with it regarding how they dress, the grades they get, whether they drink or try drugs, I am ok with not having that in sex ed also if I can get the anatomy and physiology into the schools for sure.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@longgone No, it’s a crime because it’s a crime. It’s considered mala in se, meaning it’s wrong in itself, but saying “rape is wrong” is not a moral comment like “sex before marriage is wrong.” Rape is wrong because it is a crime. Whether it’s based on morality or not doesn’t matter.

How exactly is it not a fact that rape is wrong? It’s wrong to break the law – so, yes, rape is wrong no matter who you are. Law isn’t a matter of opinion.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yes, they should teach about sex from a biological POV.
As far as the “morality,” they just need to stick with the facts, the consequences of unprotected sex.
The morality is left to the parents.

DominicX's avatar

Yes, I think they should. But like the others, I think it should be mostly biological. Schools are not in the position to tell students that sex before marriage is wrong or that she should save sex for “someone special” or something like that. That should be left to the parents or the students themselves to make those decisions. There is nothing with teaching what happens during sex, about STDs, and contraception.

I’d like to say the way sex ed was taught for me as a kid was an excellent model, but it had its flaws. The major flaw was that nothing about homosexuality was even mentioned. At that age when I was going through a confusing and troubling realization of my own homosexuality, having it at least mentioned in sex ed would’ve been helpful. But you have people who see that as “teaching kids to be gay”, so there’s always going to be controversy. You don’t have to teach that homosexuality is great, but you could at least acknowledge its existence and explain what it means. It wasn’t even hinted it.

bea2345's avatar

Of course schools should teach it as part of general hygiene. A good approach is scientific, non judgmental, and socially aware. I gave my daughter a copy of What’s happening to me? by Peter Mayle. She read and re-read it, and for weeks peppered me with questions, some of which I could not answer. She must have been about ten years old.

Dutchess_III's avatar

My biology teacher touched on human reproduction. I had a thousand questions I wasn’t afraid to ask….she got so embarrassed and flustered and shut the thing down. :(

Dutchess_III's avatar

@DominicX I guess I don’t know why they’d even bring homosexuality up in a biological discussion. For what reason?

bea2345's avatar

Because, @Dutchess_III , homosexuality is now part of the general discourse. It has to be described and explained to the youth so that things like homophobia, hate crimes and the like, can at least be comprehensible. Also consider the natural curiosity children have about their bodies and those of the opposite sex. Telling the child that such curiosity is simply wrong, without a proper explanation, is not the way to go. It has to be part of the sex ed. curriculum for the younger children.

Seek's avatar

Because sexual feelings are biochemical reactions. So it bears a mention that sometimes people have sexual feelings for the same sex.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m kind of with @Dutchess_III on this.

DominicX's avatar

@Dutchess_III A lot of what we talked about in sex ed was what happened during puberty. So there was lots of talk about “thinking about girls” and “looking at girls differently” and I was sitting there thinking, “wow, there is really something wrong with me, since I’m thinking about boys”. It just would’ve been nice if it had been acknowledged.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I see what they’re saying now @JLeslie, and I agree with them. The majority of the students will be attracted to the opposite sex, so it’s only logical that the biggest part of the lesson addresses that. However, attraction to the same sex is certainly worth mentioning. f you stick with biology, the physiology of it all is about the same.

Opening a discussion on same-sex marriage would be interesting too. That way you’re not focusing just on the sexual aspects of attraction.

DominicX's avatar

I will add that I do think that if a student had asked about it, they would not have remained silent on it. It was a pretty liberal area, so I don’t think they would have refused to talk about it if a student genuinely wanted to know. We would always have a “question box” during sex ed. If I hadn’t been so deep in the closet, I might have posed a question on it.

longgone's avatar

@JLeslie I agree, peer pressure should be a topic anyway.

@livelaughlove21 Semantics. IMO, “wrong” doesn’t have to mean “against the law”. If rape were made legal tomorrow, it would still be wrong.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Telling them all about how it works but skipping application etc, is about as logical as showing them how to make explosives, giving them the material to construct the devices, but no standard or guidance of when or when not to use it; leaving them to figure that out with another who is just as clueless as they are.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But that would be the morality part, @Hypocrisy_Central, wouldn’t it? And wouldn’t it depend solely on what the teacher’s opinion of how or when to use it?

JLeslie's avatar

@DominicX I don’t even remember the thinking about girls or boys discussion in my sex ed classes. I’ll have to as Auggie if we had that. But, I agree if that comes up, discussion for same sex should be discussed also.

@longgone I just think with sex ed the peer pressure discussion is tricky. I think I would try to steer clear of it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t remember “thoughts” ever coming up either.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@longgone “IMO, “wrong” doesn’t have to mean “against the law”.”

I never said it did. Not everything that’s wrong is against the law, but everything that’s against the law is wrong.

“If rape were made legal tomorrow, it would still be wrong.”

That would never happen, so it’s not much of an argument.

I don’t know why we’re harping on rape. The fact that it is against the law makes this a moot point. Surely rape isn’t the only moral issue up your sleeve. What such issues (that truly are strictly moral issues not against the law) do you feel should be taught in schools?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Marijuana isn’t wrong but it’s against the law. Just sayin’

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Dutchess_III Oy. Again, not true. Marijuana may not be morally wrong, but if it’s against the law it is wrong to do it. It’s not mala in se, it’s mala prohibita – meaning it’s wrong because the law prohibits it. Like downloading music illegally – it’s not wrong in itself, it’s wrong because the law says so. Simple as that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I have been so awful wrong in my life!!

Paradox25's avatar

Yes, because they’ll inevitably learn about it anyways. I’d rather it that kids are at least aware of the dangers of poorly planned sexual encounters. I do feel that sex is too open today, both in the media and in everyday life, so we should stop glamourizing it.

Blondesjon's avatar

As long as they are being taught what a shameful, dirty, and sinful act it is, sure.

gailcalled's avatar

In the Quaker school where my kids and I were involved, there was an ongoing attention to sex-ed.

A six-week unit in fourth grade, a six-week unit in the eight grade and another one in 11th grade kept the flow of accurate information going. The kids all seemed very comfortable chiming in and giving as good as they got.

funkdaddy's avatar

I think if you’re going to teach any class called “Health” to teenagers, that absolutely has to include education on sex. It’s a huge health issue and I think people are hard pressed to argue that has no place in education.

So I think everyone should learn the basics of biology, the huge range of what’s normal (because everyone worried about something at some point), options for protection from disease and pregnancy, and should have access to counselors for anything else related.

I also think we’re past the point where sexual assault needs to be discussed and clarified in highschool. It’s hard to show anyone that something is a problem, so I think kids should hear about examples they’ll run into and how to avoid ruining their lives or others. Statistics and a vague notion of “don’t take advantage of someone” isn’t cutting it.

I’d love to say all types of sexuality should be represented in class, but I don’t even know how that could be done. There is always going to be something else. So I’d say you could simplify that portion and possibly keep the majority of parents happy by just teaching that not everyone is straight, and if they’re not hurting anyone then that’s not unnatural or shameful.

Beyond that I don’t know how much effect teachers can have in a classroom setting with curriculum without overstepping their purpose. The majority of society is either repressed or private (depending on how you look at it) regarding their sex lives and I don’t think mandating anything more for their children reflects what people want from the education system.

Morality more nuanced than “be kind” gets so complicated and entrenched that maybe we should just leave it at that.

@livelaughlove21 – illegal has a constantly changing meaning set by others, what’s wrong is a personal decision and so always moral. 80 years ago selling alcohol was illegal, 50 years ago interracial marriages were illegal, 10 years ago “homosexual conduct” was illegal. You don’t know what others will decide is illegal tomorrow. People have had their time and resources taken from them for everything I’ve listed, and no one gives that back when it’s determined later they weren’t truly in the wrong, just illegal. You’ve decided breaking the law is wrong in all cases, but those are the morals you’ve set for yourself. Arguing over whether something is wrong is just arguing over opinions.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@funkdaddy Ok, let’s go with that. Homosexuality used to be unlawful, but you obviously don’t believe it’s morally wrong (and neither do I, just to be clear). However, many people do think it’s morally wrong. Like you said, what’s morally wrong is a matter of opinion. Should teachers be pushing their opinions onto their students? Of course not. Let’s not lose sight of the point to all of this useless arguing.

I still disagree that “wrong” always refers to morality, though. It’s just a word. Homosexuality was unlawful (wrong without necessarily being morally wrong) and now it’s not. I never said what’s wrong never changes.

longgone's avatar

@livelaughlove21 Well, there you go… @funkdaddy did it for me.

I still disagree that ‘wrong’ always refers to morality, though.”

I’m not interested in arguing about that, actually. It might be a good topic for a different thread. This question asked whether moral issues concerning sex should be discussed in school. I replied that yes, some moral issues should be adressed. Which you responded to by saying my examples were not “strictly moral”. Would they be included in the curriculum if biology was all the school was interested to teach, then?

I’m just saying I don’t think biology is all that should be discussed in sex ed.

JLeslie's avatar

@longgone Are you saying morality issues surrounding sex should be discussed, meaning all sides of the moral questions? That the teacher would be neutral? What topics exactly do you want discussed and how will they be discussed? Is homosexuality a morality issue to you? Sex before marriage? Multiple sex partners? Are you putting peer pressure (which we discussed above) in with morality?

gailcalled's avatar

Again; in the Quaker school where my kids were students and I was on staff, a ninth grade-math teacher was gay but quiet about it. He went on a very late night talk radio show and came out. Of course, one of our students heard it, so the news became public information in the school community almost instantaneously.

The English teacher who was running the eighth-grade sex-ed unit then sent home an announcement to the parents of the eighth- graders telling them that he was going to have the gay math teacher as a guest lecturer in one of his sex-ed classes. The class would be open to normal Q & A’s, as were all classes in the school. No parent voiced an objection.

The teacher videoed that particular class and at the normal ninth grade parents’ meeting (which was packed) showed the video. I was then a parent of an eight-grader. During the video, the gay teacher finished his spiel and the English teacher asked for questions. My son was the first to raise his hands; there was then a really good conversation between the teachers and the kids.

Shortly thereafter a student gay and lesbian club formed with its own little private space to congregate. This was in the early 80’s.

Around that time we also had a gay French teach get really ill with what turned out to be end-stage age and eventually die while still employed. The entire community (including the kids) turned out with meals, errand-running and support for his elderly and shell-shocked mother and aunt.

This is why I love the Quakers.

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled That’s why I love the Quakers also. But, in the average public school you have to stay fairly neutral andcareful not to tread on what can be perceived as controversal to keep the part of the population happy that might have objection. I trust the Quaker teacher to handle it well. I don’t trust the Evangelical Christian teacher in deep south Alabama to necessarily do the same. Do you? Many of them might handle it very well, but odds are we will come across more than one who won’t. Or, even if handled well, parents might have an objection and they won’t allow their children to be in sex ed at all. I am fine with the school having a discussion about being gay and a gay teacher, I just don’t necessarily want it in sex ed class when the children also learning about how the sperm meets the egg and the development of a fetus.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Quakers have always been cool in my book.

longgone's avatar

@JLeslie I am fine with the school having a discussion about being gay and a gay teacher, I just don’t necessarily want it in sex ed class when the children also learning about how the sperm meets the egg and the development of a fetus.

As long as such issues are discussed elsewhere, I am happy. Maybe I should not be calling them “moral issues” because yes, I would include homosexuality – but that is not a moral issue to me.
I think parents not allowing their children to attend sex ed is an excellent point!

I skimmed your posts. If I missed anything and you still want my to reply, please let me know.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, yes, and yes.

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