Begin Sex Ed in Kindergarten, Says New ‘National Standards’ Report

January 17, 2012 - 6:02 PM
School classroom (AP photo)

The new report recommends “age-appropriate” guidelines for comprehensive sexuality education, beginning in kindergarten. (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) – By the time they leave elementary school, children should be able to “define sexual orientation,” and by the eighth grade be able to “define emergency contraception and its use,” according to a report containing controversial new recommendations for sex education in U.S. public schools.

“Ideally, comprehensive sexuality education should start in kindergarten and continue through 12th grade,” says the “National Sexuality Education Standards” report, drawn up by a range of advocates, academics and public education officials.

The Future of Sex Education (FoSE), an initiative started by sex education advocates, developed the standards “to create a strategic plan for sexuality education policy and implementation.”

Also involved are the American School Health Association, the National Education Association Health Information Network – the non-profit arm of the nation’s largest teacher’s union, the NEA – the American Association for Health Education and the Society of State Leaders of Health and Physical Education.

An advisory committee includes senior officials from Planned Parenthood and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

The 45-page report determines “age-appropriate” guidelines for comprehensive sexuality education in the areas of anatomy, identity, pregnancy, sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) and others.

“Specifically, the National Sexuality Education Standards were developed to address the inconsistent implementation of sexuality education nationwide and the limited time allocated to teaching the topic,” reads the report.

The authors argue too little time is devoted to instruction in HIV, pregnancy and STD prevention – a median total of 3.1 hours in elementary school, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In its rationale for sex education in public schools, the report says there is “a pressing need to address harassment, bullying and relationship violence in our schools, which have a significant impact on a student’s emotional and physical well-being as well as on academic success.”

Standards to be introduced in kindergarten and be met by the second grade include: “Identify different kinds of family structures” and “Demonstrate ways to show respect for different types of families.”

Recommendations for students by the time they reach age seven include that they [u]se proper names for body parts, including male and female anatomy” and “[p]rovide examples of how friends, family, media, society and culture influence ways in which boys and girls think they should act.”

Starting in the third grade, and upon completion of the fifth – when most children are 10 years old – students should be able to “17efine sexual orientation as the romantic attraction of an individual to someone of the same gender or a different gender” and “[i]dentify parents or other trusted adults of whom students can ask questions about sexual orientation.”

By completion of the eighth grade, the report says, students should be able to “17ifferentiate between gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation,” “[e]xplain the range of gender roles,” and “17efine emergency contraception and its use.”

Upon completion of middle school, students should be able to “[a]nalyze external influences that have an impact on one’s attitudes about gender, sexual orientation and gender identity”; “[a]ccess accurate information about gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation”; “[c]ommunicate respectfully with and about people of all gender identities, gender expressions and sexual orientations”; “[e]xplain the health benefits, risks and effectiveness rates of various methods of contraception, including abstinence and condoms”; and “17escribe the steps to using a condom correctly.”

And by the time they graduate from high school students should be expected to “17efine emergency contraception and describe its mechanism of action” and “[a]ssess the skills and resources needed to become a parent.”

Also included in the guidelines are the following: “Compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of abstinence and other contraceptive methods, including condoms”; “Access medically-accurate information and resources about emergency contraception”; “Compare and contrast the laws relating to pregnancy, adoption, abortion and parenting”; and “Describe potential impacts of power differences (e.g., age, status or position) within sexual relationships.”

The report includes a glossary that defines gender expression, gender identity, gender roles, and transgenderism. “National Resources” for teachers, listed in the report, include GLSEN and Planned Parenthood Advocates for Youth, an organization that supports federal legislation for comprehensive sex education policy.

While the standards include references to abstinence, the FoSE advocates against abstinence-only programs. “Today, as the pendulum swings away from abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, advocates for comprehensive sex education are challenged to remain vigilant on the policy front, making certain that we maintain gains against this failed effort,” FoSE says on its Web site.

FoSE lists Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, Moral Majority and the Eagle Forum as groups that “spearheaded campaigns to discredit comprehensive sexuality education.”