The embarrassed manner with which Indians treat sex education is pretty ridiculous considering the sexual violence against children we hear about everyday. These examples from around the world ought not to shock as much as they probably will.
Politicians are more colourful: While one has blamed Sex Ed for “corrupting young minds”, others allege that Sex Ed is a conspiracy by foreign NGOs.
Some well-meaning anti-Sex Ed crusaders have objected to the “pornographic” nature of the course material; we’re talking about sentences like “Conception occurs when semen with live sperms is deposited in the vagina or cervix and fertilizes a live ovum.” Pretty hot stuff, eh.
While grown men and women are still squirming here, some other countries seem to be considerably ahead. Take a look at these examples:
Case 1: Graphic… but true
Pages from a German elementary school textbook have been doing the rounds on the internet lately. The book is titled Where do you come from, and has come under fire for… well, its honesty. It educates children through an illustrated account of the relationship between two young lovers, Lisa and Lars.
Apparently this proved to be a bit much even for many of the generally progressive Germans, who feel that orgasms, even cartoon ones, are not entirely necessary for ten-year-olds to know about. Still, one cannot argue that there’s nothing particularly unrealistic in any of these pictures, and children are exposed to a lot worse anyway.
Case 2: Starting young
Chicago passed a policy this February that makes it mandatory for all its schools to begin sex education in kindergarten. The focus will be on anatomy, reproduction, healthy relationships, and personal safety. By the time the kids are in primary school, they should be sufficiently aware about inappropriate touching, and sexual abuse.
Any proposition to introduce Sex Ed in our kindergarteners’ syllabus will probably be shot down. We don’t need it; after all, child sex abuse is not part of Indian culture. Right?
Case 3: Watching porn 101
One group of sex ed experts in the U.K. feel that not all porn is bad porn. Children, they feel, need to be made aware that the bodies and actions depicted in sex in popular culture are usually very unrealistic and most definitely not the standard.
Their publication, however, has met with quite a bit of skepticism by those who feel that porn lessons are simply never a good idea.
Case 4: Being inclusive
One of the biggest drawbacks of Sex Ed around the world has been its consistent overlooking of the LGBT community. But in several places like Germany, (and even in Chicago as per the new policy) discussing sexual orientation is part of the curriculum.
In India and several other countries we choose to pretend there’s no such thing as homosexuality, but there is some cold comfort in the fact that we are not required to tell kids that being gay is a crime, like it seems in Alabama.
(Nandita Jayaraj writes about her encounters with the strange and interesting. You can send her feedback at email@example.com. You can also tweet her @nandita_j )