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.