Parents in Nevada Flip Out About Sex Ed Curriculum

Few things send wingnut parents into more of a tizzy than sex education. And if they can’t find a real reason to get upset about it, they just make shit up. That’s what is happening in Clark County, Nevada, where a group of parents is losing their minds about a perfectly appropriate and reasonable curriculum.

A Las Vegas area school district is apologizing to parents and dropping a set of resources from a national organization that specializes in designing comprehensive sex ed curricula, following a massive outcry from residents who were concerned about sexual health information potentially being taught in kindergarten…

In order to prepare for that potential policy change, school district officials began considering adopting some of the guidelines laid out in the Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education, a model curriculum published by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). For over five decades, that group has helped schools develop sex ed classes that include age-appropriate information about anatomy, birth control, sexually transmitted infections, gender identity, and healthy relationships.

When local parents learned that the district may rely on SIECUS’ guidelines, however, they were not pleased. They argued that the proposed material was too explicit for kids. One section in particular — a definition of “masturbation” for elementary school teachers, intended to give them tips about addressing the topic if they ever noticed kids touching their genitals — outraged the adults in the school district.

“You want to teach my 5-year-old how to masturbate?” one angry parent said at a Board of Trustees meeting at the end of September, during which dozens of concerned adults packed the room to express their displeasure with the model curriculum.

“We certainly should not be teaching five-year-olds that masturbation and pleasuring one’s body is good and that a 12-year-old should know about the very details of anal and oral sex,” another parent added.

In reality, SIECUS’ guidelines pertaining to kids between the ages of five and eight are simply about anatomy. The Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education doesn’t actually have any lesson plans about teaching kids how to masturbate; instead, the document provides a definition of the act for teachers in case they need to talk to their students about why they shouldn’t touch their genitals in the classroom. The guidelines state that “both boys and girls have body parts that feel good when touched” and “masturbation should be done in a private place.”

“The section that became the lightning rod here is about five lines of text,” Kurt Conklin, the director of programs for SIECUS, told ThinkProgress in an interview. “It’s just factual pieces of information about masturbation. The guidelines give teachers the tools to address it if the school district chooses to authorize them to answer students’ questions.”

It’s not at all unusual for young kids to touch their genitals, and health experts say it presents an important opportunity for adults to communicate that it’s a normal activity that shouldn’t take place in public. “Parents should acknowledge to the child that the behavior is a normal part of the child’s healthy growth and sexual development,” Deborah Roffman, a sexuality educator who’s written a book about how parents should talk about sex with their kids, once explained to the Los Angeles Times. “Then you introduce the concept of privacy.”

Seriously, you puritan nitwits, your children don’t need to be taught to masturbate. They’re going to discover it all by themselves. And then you’re obviously going to freak out over it and tell them how shameful and terrible it is.

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  • John Pieret

    your children don’t need to be taught to masturbate. They’re going to discover it all by themselves

    Just like their parents did …

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_R2XG9CnOj8 Olav

    Quoth the article:

    A Las Vegas area school district is apologizing to parents and dropping a set of resources [etc.]

    Retorical question: is that school district run by spineless cowards?

  • colnago80

    Well, 5 years old does seem a little young for any type of sex education, but what the fuck do I know?

  • dhall

    # 4 colnago80 – Maybe you could read this section again??

    “The Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education doesn’t actually have any lesson plans about teaching kids how to masturbate; instead, the document provides a definition of the act for teachers in case they need to talk to their students about why they shouldn’t touch their genitals in the classroom.”

    Clearly, it’s only if they see inappropriate behavior in the classroom, and presumably, the teacher would take the student aside and explain that privately. It’s NOT a sex education class for 5 year olds.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    In reality, SIECUS’ guidelines pertaining to kids between the ages of five and eight are simply about anatomy.

    &

    “Seriously, you puritan nitwits, your children don’t need to be taught to masturbate.”

    OH REALLY?!! SOMEONE TAUGHT ME ABOUT ANATOMY AND NOW I CANT STOP TOUCHING MY BRAIN!!! DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH WORK IT IS TO JAM MY FINGER THAT FAR UP THERE?!!! THATS HOW DANGERUOS KNOWLEDGE IS!!!

  • lofgren

    @2

    That seems a bit harsh. While ideally the school’s service is to their students, they are answerable to these parents in a real way. Sure, the parents might not have the power to get an individual teacher or administrator fired without the cooperation of the school system, but they can certainly make the job a lot harder.

    I wonder if the course for 5-8 year olds was separated into a different set of guidelines and simply called “anatomy,” would it have drawn as much attention?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1246980039 caseyboucher

    Remembering back to when I was 5 years old, I was very curious about where I came from and why I had a penis while some of my friends didn’t. Fortunately, in my case, my parents were pretty liberal and were willing to explain it to me in terms that I could grasp at the time. A couple years later, in second grade, I discovered some anatomy books in the school library and I was able to learn a little more. It didn’t turn me into some depraved pervert; in fact, curiosity having been satisfied, I moved on and thought about other questions until puberty returned my interests to such things.

    Having now interacted with 5 year olds as an adult, I will say that many of them are curious about the topic too. And, it is not uncommon for kids to go through a phase where they’ve got their hands down their pants. Regarding the former, kids are pretty smart and have an uncanny way of telling when they’re being lied to. Regarding the latter, which does come up occasionally in the classroom (and a lot of teachers are really awkward about addressing it), a neutrally-worded explanation of why it isn’t classroom appropriate behavior is the easiest solution for all parties involved.

    Trying to keep the kids completely ignorant isn’t going to work. By third grade, most of them know vaguely what sex is and they do talk about it a lot among themselves; but they do often have some pretty wild misconceptions. Admittedly, having some misconceptions about sex in third grade is probably fine, but these misconceptions can and often do continue to an age where kids put themselves at risk by acting on misinformation.

    Giving kids accurate information about their anatomy isn’t going to do anything but just that, educate them about their anatomy. Obviously, the information should be age-appropriate (e.g. we should not be giving eighth graders a copy of the Kama Sutra) but we can’t stop the kids from being curious. They are going to ask questions and it is better that they get factual answers from a reliable source than that they get their sex education from the rumor mill.

  • howardhershey

    In my experience five years is a perfectly normal time when kids “play doctor” and start noticing differences.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    howardhershey, really? I didn’t notice any difference. Granted, I was a dentist.

  • Michael Heath

    caseyboucher writes:

    kids . . . have an uncanny way of telling when they’re being lied to.

    How do you reconcile your assertion with the propensity for kids to believe what they’re taught in church?

    Perhaps your observation doesn’t extend to those people using rhetorical fallacies that have been effective with previous generations?

  • John Pieret

    How do you reconcile your assertion with the propensity for kids to believe what they’re taught in church?

    The kids can touch their genitals but can’t touch gods? In short, empiricism vs. theology.

  • AsqJames

    Perfect illustration of how a non-issue becomes ‘a thing’ when people don’t take care to understand whatever it is they’re commenting on. And I’m not talking about the parents in Las Vegas.

    colnago80 (#3):

    Well, 5 years old does seem a little young for any type of sex education, but what the fuck do I know?

    lofgren (#6)

    I wonder if the course for 5-8 year olds was separated into a different set of guidelines

    Seriously? On a post about how “OMG! Sex Ed classes for 5 year olds!” isn’t sex ed (and isn’t even classes), 2 out of 11 comments (from within an allegedly rationalist community) are from people who think it’s about 5 year olds getting some kind of Sex Ed, or a course of classes they’re being given.

  • Matt G

    As everyone knows (or should know), the best way for kids to learn about sex is from the older kids during recess.

  • lofgren

    Seriously? On a post about how “OMG! Sex Ed classes for 5 year olds!” isn’t sex ed (and isn’t even classes), 2 out of 11 comments (from within an allegedly rationalist community) are from people who think it’s about 5 year olds getting some kind of Sex Ed, or a course of classes they’re being given.

    The language about masturbation wasn’t from a class that five year olds were getting. The 5-8 year olds would be getting basic anatomy instruction as part of this program.

  • reddiaperbaby1942

    “We certainly should not be teaching five-year-olds that masturbation and pleasuring one’s body is good.”

    Yeah, god forbid (and I mean that literally) a five-year old should think that it’s possible to “pleasure” one’s body.

    On the contrary: once teach five-year-olds that the body is evil and that physical pleasure is a sin, and they’ll remember it all their lives. And take it out on their own kids and everyone else around them. A pretty joyless bunch of people! Have you ever seen a happy fundamentalist? They seem to be miserable unless they can inflict the same deprivation on everyone else.

    All three monotheistic religions share the same joylessness and rejection of physical pleasure. We should have stuck with the hedonistic polytheism of antiquity.

  • dingojack

    MO (#9) – could have been worse — you could have been a proctologist (or a pathologist)*.

    :0 Dingo

    ————

    * Personally, I usually played a psychologist… :)

  • anubisprime

    It would not be a huge revelation to find out who the master puppeteers are that has fuelled and set light to these parents tail feathers and letting loose the innate ignorance and stupidity of the dumbville residents.

    Clue… most of them wear black dresses and have a penchant for very young flesh or swear black and blue that snakes talked 6000 yrs ago or even jeebus be a comin’ to smite the atheists, teh gheys or anyone else that challenges their utterly riseable delusions of righteousness.

  • Michael Heath

    reddiaperbaby1942 writes:

    Have you ever seen a happy fundamentalist?

    Yes, I’ve encountered many happy fundamentalists.

    I tried googling to find studies that indexed their happiness relative to others by religious affiliation but struck out.

    I did find that people who are religious are predominately not necessarily happy because of their religion, but instead the social connectedness and other social benefits of being part of a religious congregation and like-minded people. There were some studies that found happiness was increased by fundamentalists ‘knowing’ what their purpose in life was. But these didn’t factor in the negatives to being a fundamentalist so no net result was given and then compared to other religious affiliations.

    I also found studies that found that in economically undeveloped area, religious people were more happy than others because they had support for necessities their income or the government didn’t provide.

    There were some findings that fundamentalists weren’t as well off, primarily because they were less educated and therefore had less access to higher paying jobs, in particular in science. One would expect that to reduce happiness though I didn’t find it so overwhelm the social benefits of fundamentalist to the degree there were no happy fundamentalists as you at least rhetorically claim.

    One study I found was incredibly flawed. They wanted to see if fundamentalists were less intelligent than other people. But they only surveyed young people in college where 68% of the respondents were females. That rather than sampling a representative sample of fundamentalists.