"Don’t teach kindergartners how to count to ten," the
argument seems to go, "because they’re too young to learn calculus."
This is the backward logic now employed by the extreme right wing, and its new standard bearer, Republican presidential nominee John
McCain. It flies in the face of logic, overwhelming scientific evidence,
and the common sense of the American people.
Instead of trying to find common ground on the issue of sex education
and having real, open discussions about what educational materials are age
appropriate and community appropriate, the Right Wing has again launched a
smear campaign. Today, the McCain campaign released a new attack ad against
Sen. Barack Obama’s sex education policies which was clearly designed to mislead
Americans about what comprehensive sexuality education really is and how it can
serve families and communities.
The foundation for a healthy life and understanding of
sexuality starts with early childhood education and a discussion of the
basics. And we are talking about the
basics here, folks. Every child, even as
young as kindergarten, has the right to a certain level of education about his/her
body. Messages included for Level 1 (5
to 8 year olds) in the SIECUS Guidelines
for Comprehensive Sexuality Education, include:
change as children grow older
can be proud of their body
bodies are different sizes, shapes, and colors
and boys have many similarities and a few differences
and girls have different body parts
- It is
ok to say "no" to adults who are touching you or make you feel
I am always shocked when the Right tries to make Americans
afraid of statements like these — statements that are designed to instill in young people a sense of self
worth, respect for diversity, and ability to make safe decisions. The
Guidelines also provide messages for children on friendship, love, parents,
and values — issues that we all care about.
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So why the no-holds-barred attack from the Right on the
basic American values of education and smart decision making? Because, the more you know about
comprehensive sexuality education, the less afraid of it you will be. And, right now, fear is all the right wing
has to offer. Sen. McCain, organizations
like the National Abstinence Education Association, and other members of the
abstinence-only-until-marriage industry are trying to sell the American people
on their extremist view of the world by misleading, distorting, and, yes, even
lying about comprehensive sexuality education and the policy makers who support
It is time that the American people said, "Enough."
The truth about Obama’s record in the Illinois legislature is that he supported a
bill that would have amended the state’s sex education law by allowing more
students access to age-appropriate instruction and requiring that all materials
be "medically accurate." Of course
students should receive instruction on all subjects that is age appropriate,
and I have yet to meet anyone with the chutzpah to say they are against
medically accurate information.
As this election season moves forward, the opponents of
comprehensive sexuality education are going to grow more and more desperate,
and their attacks are going to grow more and more vicious. It is the duty of all of us, not just as
educators, parents, or policy makers, but as citizens, to move past the fear
mongering and concentrate on putting the health and well being of our children
before short term political gains.