Before I became a sex educator, I taught children in the early grades how to read. One of the first things I learned is that development is key. You can’t teach children to decode or learn to recognize sight words and phrases unless they feel comfortable in their own skin. They need to have a sense of who they are as human beings.
This is why I support age-appropriate sexuality education for children that starts in kindergarten before formal reading instruction begins. I think it’s a good way to help them feel secure about their bodies and themselves. When adults hear about sex education taking place in kindergarten, many have no frame of reference. Some may recall the topics they learned as teens and shudder at the thought of little ones learning about condoms, contraception, abortion, rape and other explicit topics.
Recently, this topic was the center of attention in a TV ad in which Republican presidential candidate John McCain accused his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama, of supporting sex education in kindergarten. The narrator says darkly, “Obama’s one accomplishment? Legislation to teach ‘comprehensive sex education’ to kindergarteners. Learning about sex before learning to read? Barack Obama. Wrong on education. Wrong for your family.”
The McCain forces obviously believe that throngs of Americans will be shocked and outraged that anyone, particularly a presidential candidate, would consider talking about sexual health with five-year-olds who haven’t learned to read more than a stop sign.