Camille Paglia is my hero. Strange, I know. What does a homeschooling, conservative, Christian mom have in common with a lesbian who is also a feminist and an atheist? The answer is common sense and courage. And she’s showing us how it’s done once again.
I have long been highly critical of what passes for sex education today from the stupidity of putting condoms on bananas to pretending that there is no such thing as a biological clock for women. Paglia has written a common-sense guide for sex educators that we should take very seriously.
First, anatomy and reproductive biology belong in general biology courses taught in middle school by qualified science teachers. Every aspect of physiology, from puberty to menopause, should be covered. Students deserve a cool, clear, objective voice about the body, rather than the smarmy, feel-good chatter that now infests sex-ed workbooks.
Second, certified health educators, who advise children about washing their hands to avoid colds, should discuss sexually transmitted diseases at the middle-school or early-high-school level. But while information about condoms must be provided, it is not the place of public schools to distribute condoms, as is currently done in the Boston, New York and Los Angeles school districts. Condom distribution should be left to hospitals, clinics and social-service agencies.
Sing it, sister! Show those photos of weeping sores. Teenagers need to see the burning, bleeding, puss-filled infections up close.
Similarly, public schools have no business listing the varieties of sexual gratification, from masturbation to oral and anal sex, although health educators should nonjudgmentally answer student questions about the health implications of such practices. The issue of homosexuality is a charged one. In my view, antibullying campaigns, however laudable, should not stray into political endorsement of homosexuality or gay rights causes. While students must be free to create gay-identified groups, the schools themselves should remain neutral and allow society to evolve on its own.
Someone give Camille Paglia Arne Duncan’s job right now! I would like to add that those teachers answering questions about anal sex should also objectively provide the information that this practice can make you very ill and even kill you. How many of those super cool, anything-goes sex educators ever discuss bowel perforation and anal fissures? This is a highly important part of sex education considering there is a push by media like the Huffington Post to convince heterosexual college kids that anal sex is the best thing since the iPhone 5.
The genders should be separated for sex counseling. It is absurd to avoid the harsh reality that boys have less to lose from casual serial sex than do girls, who risk pregnancy and whose future fertility can be compromised by disease. Boys need lessons in basic ethics and moral reasoning about sex (for example, not taking advantage of intoxicated dates), while girls must learn to distinguish sexual compliance from popularity.
Contrary to the claims that conservatives do not want kids educated about sex, we actually want them better educated about it. We want them to learn about all the risks just like Paglia describes, while leaving the political ideology to the families and individuals to decide for themselves.