There’s very little that’s new under the sun, and that goes double for things in the political world. Each week, Liberty Nation explores a brand-new political phenomenon that we could have learned from in the past.
Sex isn’t the dirty little word it used to be. In fact, it is so in-your-face now that students as young as four years old start to learn about it in schools. The way children are being taught the subject and the curriculum supporting it have drastically changed over the decades. But one thing still remains the same: What most parents consider appropriate for their children to study is vastly different from what the government and schools push.
Then: Sex as a Biological Function
What seems like a lifetime ago, openly talking about having intercourse was considered inappropriate. I remember my mother telling me that she was told, by her mother, that sex was beautiful between a husband and wife. That’s it. No other information, explanation, or exploration of feelings involved. This was the way it was for many growing up, especially in the South, until someone decided it might be a good idea to educate hormonal teens on the birds and the bees.
In 1913, that person was Ella Flagg Young, a superintendent in Chicago who developed a “sex hygiene” course for the public schools. Young was concerned about the high rate of prostitution and sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and sought a way to educate the young on safety. The program lasted only a year.
The 1920s saw an increase in sex education in schools because of the growing spread of STDs, thought to be inflated because of the continued war. In 1919, a White House task force endorsed programs in schools, and just three years later the US Public Health Service released a manual with suggestions on how to teach the unmentionable topic.
Commonly referred to as “social hygiene,” the curriculum taught students the biological aspects of sexual relations. In other words, “how” things happened. The foreword of High Schools and Sex Education, published in 1922, said: “It was the war, however, that revealed the immediate urgency of this work. Now as before it is essential, both for preventing the destructive venereal diseases and for insuring[sic] the best use of their creative impulses, that our boys and girls be wisely directed to an understanding and control of their sexual energies.”
The guidebook explains the need for the school’s involvement, stating that parents are not able to provide the information at home. “The chief problems upon which boys and girls need enlightenment are the following,” noted the book:
- The home as an institution and as a social agency; the meaning of monogamy for the individual and for the state; the rearing of children; infidelity and adultery.
- Illegitimacy: The facts and their implications.
- Prostitution: The facts, their implications as to status; the “double standard.”
- Divorce: Reasons for legal or ecclesiastical restrictions; causes.
The reference book also suggests segregating the sexes and having teachers of the same biological gender as their class so that kids would be more comfortable. Students were encouraged to seek release through sports and other healthy activities whenever their “urges” became a problem.
The 1960s saw another change, this time in reverse. During the age of “free love” and “peace not war,” Christian groups gathered to stop the flood of sexual information spilling into their children’s schools. The group Christian Crusade distributed the pamphlet Is the School House the Proper Place to Teach Raw Sex?; the John Birch Society branded sex education a “filthy Communist plot.” The backlash resulted in many schools restricting the taboo topic in their communities.
Twenty years later, the 1980s took it a step even further. With the fear of a new disease wreaking havoc, leaders proposed absolute abstinence to prevent spreading the AIDs or HIV virus that terrified the population. In the 1990s, “abstinence only until marriage” (AOUM) was adopted by the US government and funded by domestic and foreign aid programs, and 49 out of 50 states accepted the funds to promote the program in the classrooms.
Now: Sex Is Multi-Dimensional
We have come a long way over the past century, but have we come too far? The simple, albeit embarrassing (at the time) biology class that discussed the reproductive process by way of plants and animals has advanced to explicit, detailed diagrams and intimate instructions. Kids are bombarded with sex, sex, sex. Traditional sex education as it was originally intended — to help prevent venereal diseases and explain the complexity of reproduction — is hopelessly out of date. Now our kids are taught self-gratification as an alternative to sex, with instruction on how to accomplish the solo goal, complete with ideas for everyday household items that can be used as sex toys if they can’t afford to purchase them.
The California ACLU instructs schools on how best to hide student abortions from their parents. Girls who opt for an abortion can do so during school hours and the absence will be marked as excused, with no parental notification. An excused absence also means the schools get to keep their funding for that student.
We are supposed to be tolerant and accepting of other views, yet our Christian children are punished for not wishing to participate in lessons related to LGBTQ relationships, which go directly against their faith and beliefs. Instead of biological sex, one man and one woman, there are now so many categories, with new ones surfacing every week. It is impossible to keep track of them all, much less figure out who belongs to which group, how to address them properly, and so on.
Is sex education even needed in our schools anymore? With the internet, kids find all kinds of material, and most are well aware of the “how” and “what happens” long before they learn about it in a classroom. The US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health had this to say:
“Paradoxically, the declines in formal sex education from 2006 to 2013 have coincided with sizeable declines in adolescent birth rates and improved rates of contraceptive method use in the United States from 2007 to 2014 [20,21]. These coincident trends suggest that adolescents are receiving information about birth control and condoms elsewhere. Although the National Survey of Family Growth does not provide data on Internet use, Lindberg et al.  suggest that it is likely an important new venue for sex education. Others have commented on the myriad of online sexual and reproductive resources available to adolescents and their increasing use of sites such as Bedsider.org, StayTeen.org, and Scarleteen.”
What Have We Learned?
Sex is a whole lot more complicated than it was 100 years ago.