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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Did I hear Sex Ed?

br1dotcom, Flickr


Dear reader: Before you go any further into this post, may I proudly announce that I have just been published on the Fit Mama website! Follow this link (click here) to read about my experience with fitness!



The recent distribution of a sexual health education leaflet by our school to its students (Grades Primary to 5) has created a general outcry within the community. 

Some of the reactions, by parents upon opening school bags, read as follows on the social media:

"It's insane!"

"I almost died!"

"Not happening!"

"This is disgusting! [Sex ed] shouldn't happen until they're 12."

The parents (mostly moms) were going to the barricades about this leaflet. I hadn't opened it yet, so this strong reaction definitely piqued my curiosity. What horrors was I going to find in the leaflet?

Turns out the outcomes for elementary school children were very, very reasonable:


  • What makes up a family/diverse family structures
  • How to identify a safe and trusted adult
  • The proper names for body parts, including what areas of the body are private
  • Concepts related to sexual abuse
  • Gender and gender identity
  • Body image
  • Physical and emotional changes associated with puberty
  • To think critically about media messages
  • That sexual orientation is part of our personal identity, and that homophobia has harmful effects


One mom protested "But those topics have nothing to do with sexual education!"

Unknowingly, this mom had put her finger on one of the biggest challenges when it comes to teach our children about sexuality: in many adults' minds, the word sexuality evokes genitalia in particular and sexual intercourse in general.

But sexuality encompasses much, much more than that!

The first time I opened a book about sexuality with my daughters, I was ready to explain, in a matter-of-fact way, how "babies are made". To my surprise, however, my daughters showed very little interest in the actual "mechanics" of it. They wanted to know how you name each body part, what happens when people of different ethnic origins have kids together, etc. Not much about "the act" itself.

So I did as my friend the sexologist always advises: I simply answered their questions, as clearly and honestly as I could, without putting any embarrassment into the equation. And I did not get ahead: I let them lead the discussion. Because children will only ask a question when they're ready to hear the answer.

In any case, I've always approached the topic keeping in mind that the reproductive system is just another one in the body, along with the digestive, the circulatory, the respiratory. Why make a big deal out of it? Keeping taboos usually doesn't yield great results.

Sounds simple enough to me.

Now the issue might be that we, as adults, are not always entirely comfortable talking about sexuality, especially to children. But asking ourselves "Am I, as a parent, ready to explain those things?" is irrelevant. Children deserve honest answers, and we would be selfish to let our own discomfort with this topic get in the way.

Plus, if those things aren't explained in a respectful and age-appropriate way (at school or at home), how do you think our kids will learn about them? And when? (Knowing that puberty happens earlier and earlier! Wait until they're 12, as the above mentioned mother suggests, and you will likely have missed the boat altogether!)

Not knowing what to expect, thinking "it's disgusting", or learning about it in the wrong circumstances, could be a passport to having an unhealthy relationship with one's sexuality. Who would wish that for their kids?

Luckily, some parents who reacted to the leaflet had it right. One said "Maybe it's better she learns the info properly from her teacher than on the playground". Another said "I'd rather my child learn this stuff than be in the dark and have no clue".



  • Have you talked about those topics with your kids? How did you go about it? How did they react?
  • Did you learn about sexuality in optimal, respectful circumstances when you were younger?




14 comments:

  1. I love your comment: "Because children will only ask a question when they're ready to hear the answer." If I ever have kids, I'm going to use that advice!!!

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    1. I heard that from a sexologist a few years ago! :-)

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  2. Funny because you know I used to be a science teacher and my first year of teaching I taught 6th grade at a middle school. We did an entire sex-ed unit and it was not at all what people expect when they hear those words. We gave parents the option to have their child opt out and do a library project instead but it really isn't a huge thing.
    I guess that helped when it came my turn to be the parent and sign the consent form for my boys.
    We do talk about pretty much everything at home because I view it as our job to teach the boys but there is always something else that they can learn from the group experience.

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    1. That's interesting Kim! I sure hope parents did not ask to opt out. This is an important part of education.

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  3. I learned of the existence of the hymen in an anatomy lecture in my second year of university. Before that I just though people had to take your word for it that you were a virgin although I did have some concept that bleeding was involved the first time. I learned everything I knew from one boy in primary school whose parents had the talk with him and then the rest through my own research. It was lucky that boy had some good information because I was the first girl in my grade to have her period.

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    1. Thank you for that comment, Cindy! You illustrate very well what happens when we don't explain those things to our children.

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  4. It is such a shame that still,in 2014, many parents get 'hot under the collar' so to speak about sex education. This is life for goodness sake. With my children, aged from 30+ down to 20+ and I'm also a Grandma - I can honestly say that I always found it best to "simply answer their questions, as clearly and honestly as I could, without putting any embarrassment into the equation. And I did not get ahead: I let them lead the discussion. Because children will only ask a question when they're ready to hear the answer." I found that worked very well.

    But of course when you have YOUR children it is up to YOU to decide.

    Very interesting article and I like the comments too ... many thanks

    All the best Jan

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    1. I agree with you Jan. :-) This is an important topic, and by talking about it I believe we protect our children and ensure they will have a healthy, happy sexuality later on in life. :-)

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  5. I enjoyed your blog Julie! I have always tried to give my daughter honest answers in a way that I felt she could understand. I haven't seen this leaflet yet but it should like good information.

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    1. Thanks! It's nice to see there are other parents out there with similar approaches! :-)

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  6. I never had any at home or in school! It was all on the job training for me, lol!

    I was once watching a local TV show where regional representatives were discussing sex-ed in our local schools. They were so uncomfortable with the topic! I think a good round of saying, "f--k f--k f--k," would have been very useful for all of them to loosen up and have a useful discussion.

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    1. Yep, that would loosen them up all right! :-)

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  7. Hi Julie ..... In reply to your comment "Dear reader: Before you go any further into this post, may I proudly announce that I have just been published on the Fit Mama website! Follow this link (click here) to read about my experience with fitness!"

    I clicked here and absolutely loved what I read .. Well Done

    Have a great weekend

    All the best Jan

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  8. Well, we had the menstruation film and talk in 5th grade, some sex ed in 6th and 7th, but I got my most helpful info from the book Our Bodies Ourselves. Wow. A book encouraging a girl to look at her genitalia in a mirror, really check it out. Revolutionary. Parents didn't utter a peep, ever. It was expected, I guess, that if we wanted to know we would ask. But ewww....not our parents!

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