Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Lesson in Fear

So, yesterday I was going through a pile of stuff that had inexplicably been 'stashed and dashed' and forgotten. And I came across this:


Do we teach human sexuality in a healthy way in Howard County? Well, what do you think about this work packet from a Middle School Health unit?

That is the question I posed to my friends on Facebook yesterday after taking one look at this ghastly choice of clip-art.

Wait? What?? Why are they scared? What is even happening here?

omg. not healthy

So this pamphlet is going to say that sex is terrifying?

That's what one would think from the cover. Inside is about five deathly dull worksheets with vocabulary words covering the male and female reproductive systems.

Why is the title shouted?


Alternate titles, "We Think Sex is AWFUL!" "You Should Really, Really, Really Freak Out About Sex! We Are!" Also, "Sex Is DEFINITELY Something to Be Ashamed Of."

None of the participants in this conversation felt that this was intentionally harmful. We discussed whether it was "a lame attempt at humor." We acknowledged it might be a clumsy nod to what the teacher assumed the middle schoolers felt about the topic. One participant summed it up best:

I try not to overreact to stupid, but probably not meant to be harmful, mistakes. This really bothers me, though.

You would think that these particular sorts of units would be very carefully crafted and thought-out to be used across the system. You would think that the emphasis would be on presenting a mature, healthy, emotionally-grounded and developmentally appropriate approach. This doesn't come across that way. This can't be how a world-class school system deals with education in human sexuality. And yet, clearly, it is.

If this is how we teach human sexuality in Howard County, it's no wonder that the Board of Ed had a cosmic freak-out over the word "condom".

Just in case this conversation has disturbed you, I offer this encouraging message printed on the last page of every booklet:

What more can I say?


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