It’s that time! After a steamy summer of bathing suits and loose schedules, we get to reclaim order, routine, and crisp clothes, even if you’re not in school. But if you are, here’s to sharpened pencils, getting frisky in the book stacks and trying to remember your locker code.
As you can imagine, back to school, at Sustain, means one thing: SEX ED. In America, we do a woefully horrible job of educating our kids about sexuality. It’s mind boggling, but less than half of our states have mandatory sex ed requirements. Please don’t get us started on the number of programs that are abstinence-only, not comprehensive. But it can be done better. In these 3 countries, they do it right. Hats off (or, er, on) to them:
Sex ed is a countrywide requirement: Let’s just start with the fantastic fact that, starting in September, the French will now use a 3D printed clitoris in all sex education. This can only be good, especially as the government body that monitors gender equality in public life (yes! it exists!) published a recent report saying the nation’s current sex ed model is too sexist—boys get to focus on the physical, girls more on love. Perhaps this clit will change all.
The Dutch begin their famous—and amazing sounding—sexuality (not sex!) education in kindergarten. The mandatory curriculum is the brainchild of a sexuality research institute and it really puts the U.S. to shame. Don’t think discussing sexuality at 4 is possible? Think again. At that age, kids can talk about love and what it feels like to be hugged. By age 8, kids understand about self-image and gender stereotypes. By age 11, children are ready to delve deeper, getting into sexual orientation and contraception. It’s an approach worth imitating.
This Scando country has required mandatory sex ed for students since the 1950s! The Swedish National Board of Ed lists various principles of sex ed that are all about respect and responsibility. They touch on fidelity, the ethical treatment of other human beings, and what constitutes violation of individual liberty—mental pressure as well as physical force. The principles even address the differences between casual sex versus relationship sex, and goes so far as to say there should be no “moral castigation” when it comes to casual sex!
There are other countries, too, like Germany and Australia, light-years ahead of the U.S. The data—teen pregnancy and STD rates—support that comprehensive sex education is critical. If we have our way about it, U.S. will jump on the bandwagon soon. In the meantime, we have what you need to stay safe out there—on or off campus.