Tonight, my daughter’s elementary school screened for parents the sex education films that they are planning to show fourth graders later this month. The films were so dated, so circumspect, and so careful not to say (or illustrate) anything that might possibly offend anybody, that my child is probably better off not seeing them at all.
She’ll see them…but the information they convey (and I’m being generous here) is so muddled and watered-down by the terrified educators who made them twenty years ago that all the movies will succeed in doing is confusing my daughter instead of informing her.
Did you know that babies "come out of the same special opening that the father used to deliver his semen to the mother?" Where is this special opening? Is it in her arm pit? Perhaps it’s between one of her toes. The movie doesn’t dare say. But they do tell you how important it is to successful reproduction that you have a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, take frequent showers, and behave responsibly. You also shouldn’t smoke or take drugs. I’m surprised they forgot to mention the importance of pledging allegiance to the flag.
There were three other movies and, to be fair, the second one mentions the vagina and the penis, but never says the man inserts his penis into the woman’s vagina. Exactly how the sperm gets from the man’s penis to the woman’s uterus is a mystery the films dare not not explore for fear some neanderthal parent might scream "pornography!"
We had one such parent in the audience today. She didn’t scream pornography, but she couldn’t understand why her fourth grader had to "be subjected to all of this." To what? I’ve seen anti-persperant commercials that were more explicit about human mating than these so-called educational flms. (That said, it was made clear to the parent, many times, that her child didn’t have to see the movies or take part in the sex education classes).
To be honest, I think these dated, boring, vague, uninformative films do more harm than good. We want to engage our children, not numb them. If we are going educate our kids, let’s actually educate them instead of intentionally confusing them… let’s give them the facts they need to understand sex and ask their parents the questions that will help them make important decisions in later years.
I know it’s possible for an educational film to do those things… because we saw one tonight. It was a short, animated film about the immune system (we saw it, I suppose, because it touches on AIDS). Not only was it clear and concise, it treated the subject with cleverness and humor. It didn’t pull punches and treated its audience…the kids… with intelligence and respect. It did all those things because whoever made it wasn’t worried about offending anyone. How the immune system works isn’t something that gets parents riled up. The subject of AID was dealt with simply and clearly — it’s what happens to the body when the immune system fails. It didn’t discuss unsafe sex or sharing needles or any of that…
Why can’t they make a sex education film that tells children that a baby is concieved through sexual intercourse… when a man puts his penis into a woman and delivers his semen, which is full of sperm and fertilizes the egg?
I know what you’re thinking… "the same reason you had such trouble telling your daughter about sex the first time, dunderhead." Ah yes, but a film can illustrate it so much better than I can explain it… and if my daughter saw a film like that, it would remove much of her confusion and make it much easier for the two of us to discuss what intercourse means biologically, emotionally, and morally.
In his case, I think the schools aren’t doing us any favors with their antiquated, and vague, "educational" films.