California's Woodland Park Middle School Makes a Huge Sex Ed Mistake
Here’s to the latest in face palm-worthy sex ed lesson in US Schools. This time it’s not the complete failure to teach sex ed, to grasp the concept of homosexuality, or to make contraception publicly available, it’s forcing 14-year-olds at California's Woodland Park Middle School to publicly declare how far they would go sexually.
That’s right. According to 10News, Eighth Graders were instructed to stand behind signs that best indicated their sexual willingness level, as part of a sex ed lesson. Options included: "smiled at, hugged, kissed, above the waist, below the waist, and all the way." Basically a school-approved version of “what base would you go to?” In front of all their friends and peers. Horrifying.
But that’s not even the real problem here. Yes, that would have be an incredibly embarrassing experience, one I certainly would have balked at as an eighth grader while attempting to dissolve into the carpet. And yes, that survey could surely have been conducted differently, perhaps through an anonymous written poll or a series of one-on-one discussions with health professionals. Yet, an even larger issue shown in this incident is the vague terminology and lack of medical accuracy being used by this Californian school teacher.
Let’s begin with the ordering of sexual acts by this sex ed teacher. Ranking sexual acts from “smiled at” to “all the way” — although a fairly common practice in everyday language — presents sexual activity as a series of stages to be conquered, rather than something to be experienced or explored with another person. The suggestion that sex is going “all the way” makes other experiences seem incomplete.
Furthermore, such euphemistic technology only clouds the issues these classes are supposed to clarify. I’d like to think that any 14-year-old student who is ready to go “all the way” would be able to use the proper term: having sex. Not only are such labels immature, they’re also unclear. If we're using this system, what marks the difference between “below the belt” and “all the way?” And where do gay students and their sexual experiences fit into all of this?The scary part about this is that California is one of the 19 states where there are special laws that require sex education to be medically, factually, or technically accurate. Each state interprets this requirement differently, but the California requirement includes the word "objectivity" and suggests teaching should be "age-appropriate." Safe to say they've failed at both of these things. This makes me wonder what they're teaching in Mississippi where there are no such laws concerning accuracy and objectivity, but sex ed is mandatory. Oh, and where they're still required to teach students that homosexuality is illegal.The fact that schools can be so blasé about the language used is pretty ironic given the stringent controls they've placed on skirt lengths and the tightness of clothing. A take-away message for US schools? If we're going to talk about sex (baby), let's use the right terminology.