BY SHARON MARTIN
I grew up protected from outside influences by two well-meaning parents, both preachers. We had interesting conversations about politics, culture, science, and religion. We talked books and poetry. We loved field trips and long talks about history.
Alas, the subject of consent, let alone sex, never came up!
I got almost all my education through science class, from books I searched out myself, and in uncomfortable situations. This includes basic knowledge about menstruation. When I started my period, I had no idea what was happening. I was terrified. My parents were good with conversations so long as they didn’t involve bodily functions or anything that smacked of sin.
If parents won’t talk about sex and consent, you expect Sunday School teachers will? In all my years, I don’t think I’ve ever met one who dared take on subjects parents wouldn’t tackle.
Is it a minister’s place to educate your children about consent? Do you want them to?
If teaching about consent is off limits, sex education is in a virtual lock box. It’s almost as if you want young people to be ignorant. And vulnerable.
At least there was a program that taught fifth graders about the effects of puberty by the time my children were in school. And I once taught in a high school that had a gutsy Family and Consumer Science teacher who taught a Sex Ed unit to the older students. Many of these students were already sexually active, but even they took home an opt-out paper to their parents.
Mrs. E’s lessons on protection from STDs and unwanted pregnancies should have been taught years sooner, because some of the same kids who laughed loudest when she put a condom on a banana were already parents, or would be soon.
And even in this brave teacher’s class, I’m not sure consent and autonomy were topics of discussion.
I agree that we should be having conversations with our children at home and in church youth groups. Also, parents should know that they can take their children to the health department for a first checkup and a possibly-uncomfortable conversation with a nurse.
Consent and safe sex are just two of many conversations we should be having with young people. Ignorance is dangerous.
The topics that are most uncomfortable are usually the ones that are most necessary, and the ones we just aren’t having. Rep. Jacob Rosecrants and Sen. Carri Hicks, please don’t give up on Lauren’s Law.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. Her latest book, Not A Prodigal, is available through Barnes and Noble. Her recent children’s book, Froggy Bottom Blues, can be purchased in hardcover or paperback from Doodle and Peck Publishingand in paperback from Amazon.