Sex Education For Kindergarteners

Ken AshfordEducation, Election 2008, Right Wing and Inept Media, Sex/Morality/Family ValuesLeave a Comment

Our national media is so bad.  I mean, it is atrociously bad.

Check out this ABC News headline: Sex Ed for Kindergarteners ‘Right Thing to Do,’ Says Obama

The story begins:

ABC News’ Teddy Davis and Lindsey Ellerson Report: Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., told Planned Parenthood Tuesday that sex education for kindergarteners, as long as it is "age-appropriate," is "the right thing to do."

Now, if you look at that, you would think that Obama is thinking we should talk about erections and fallopian tubes and zygotes and, you know, intercourse — to five year olds.

Naturally, headlines like that serve as red meat for the right wing.  For example, Matt Margolis of GOP Bloggers writes:

This is absurd. There is no reason why we need the schools to teach kids that are five years old about something that should be left to the parents. What’s even scarier is that he told Planned Parenthood that sex education for kindergartners is "the right thing to do" as long as it is "age-appropriate." Oh yeah? And who gets to decide what is "age-appropriate?"

Gateway Pundit adds:

Of course, Barak has no idea how insulting his remarks are as he goes on about how six-year-olds can benefit from sex education.

Then there’s Right Wing News: "Obama Is A Radical Liberal Who Wants To Expose Kindergartners To Sex And Force You To Pay For Abortions"

UPDATE:  Now, Mitt Romney is lating into Obama about this:

You get the idea.

Jlvn344lBut, as is usually the case, you have to go deep into the story to realize that there is far LESS to the story than it appears:

When Obama’s campaign was asked by ABC News to explain what kind of sex education Obama considers "age appropriate" for kindergarteners, the Obama campaign pointed to an Oct. 6, 2004 story from the Daily Herald in which Obama had "moved to clarify" in his Senate campaign that he "does not support teaching explicit sex education to children in kindergarten. . . The legislation in question was a state Senate measure last year that aimed to update Illinois’ sex education standards with ‘medically accurate’ information . . . ‘Nobody’s suggesting that kindergartners are going to be getting information about sex in the way that we think about it,’ Obama said. ‘If they ask a teacher ‘where do babies come from,’ that providing information that the fact is that it’s not a stork is probably not an unhealthy thing. Although again, that’s going to be determined on a case by case basis by local communities and local school boards.’"

In addition to local schools informing kindergarteners that babies do not come from the stork, the state legislation Obama supported in Illinois, which contained an "opt out" provision for parents, also envisioned teaching kindergarteners about "inappropriate touching," according to Obama’s presidential campaign. Despite Obama’s support, the legislation was not enacted.

I acknowledge that there is room for reasonable disagreement about the level of "sex education" you give to children (and who gives it), but Barack Obama’s "sex education" suggestion merely amounts to:

  1. Warning kids about what constitutes a “bad touch”
  2. Telling kids that babies grow inside mommies, and are made by mommies and daddies — but not explaining exactly how they’re made, since that’s not really relevant
  3. Allowing parents to determine whether or not their kids should think the stork brings children

Where is the objection in any of that?

So what is the purpose of that headline — "Sex Ed for Kindergarteners ‘Right Thing to Do,’ Says Obama" — other than to enflame a controversy where virtually little exists?

UPDATE:  Kudos to Pat Robertson’s people for, you know, actually getting what Obama was saying.  From the CBN website:

So, at this point at least, what Obama is referring to is teaching five year olds about inappropriate touching. The Obama campaign also tells The Brody File that parents would be able to opt out. As for further details, the touching aspect seems to be the main idea here. Obama doesn’t want to hand out condoms to five year olds. He doesn’t want cucumber demonstrations as part of show and tell. The legitimate reasonable discussion here is whether the federal government and/or local school boards should get involved in providing these five year olds information about inappropriate touching or should it be left up to families only.

Still, The Romney campaign is already ripping Barack Obama. The campaign is sending out this You Tube video where Mitt Romney spoke about this last night in a Colorado Springs speech….

I must say that Romney’s comments suggesting that Obama wants to teach sex education to kindergarteners is a little misleading. Because he didn’t put in the proper context, many in the audience probably left thinking that Obama is ok with the condoms and cucumber approach.

Also, Misty at Shakesville adds:

I think certain adults get all freaked about it because sex = “naughty” or “dirty” fun. Hubba-hubba and all that. But kids don’t think of it that way and won’t associate all the “adultness” or “naughty fun” with it just by the simple explanation of how sex and the body work to “make a baby”. The truth of the matter is, it’s as non-sexy and non-a big deal as explaining digestion or breathing. It just simply IS.

Sounds right to me.