Editorials

Hysteria stalls sex education at Hardy Middle

Last week, a seventh grade sex education survey at nearby Hardy Middle School caused so much hysteria that Principal Dana Nerenberg put any future sexual education programs on indefinite hold. A vocal minority of parents feel that the survey—which included questions about gender identity, sexual activity, pregnancy, drug use, and sexual orientation—was inappropriate for their 12-year-olds. Despite protests from squeamish parents, programs like these form a critical and necessary part of early sexual education.

One of the major problems with the survey was that Hardy administrators failed to send a letter offering parents an opportunity to pull their child out of the class before the survey was administered. This is unacceptable, especially given how sensitive the topics covered by the survey are. But Nerenberg should not question the value of sexual education programs because of her school’s clerical error.

Sexual education is necessary in the D.C. Public Schools system. Almost a fourth of D.C. students are sexually active by middle school. Cutting this sexual education program would leave Hardy students without critical information about STDs and pregnancy. D.C., with its extremely high HIV/AIDS rate, is an especially dangerous place for someone who is uneducated about safe sex.

Local media coverage of the survey’s fallout following last week’s survey was focused on anonymous parents railing against Hardy administrators for exposing students to topics like gender identity and sexual orientation. While parents have the right to decide how their children are educated about reproductive health, casting dialogue about sexual identity in a negative light only reinforces prejudices. On the other hand, teaching students at an early age about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues promotes tolerance and acceptance in later life.

Topics like sexual orientation should not only be acceptable to talk about, they are in many ways necessary for middle school classrooms. Many students at this age already know that they are gay or transgender—even if they cannot yet define these terms. The confusion reportedly felt by some students during the survey only underlines their need for more information.

Hardy parents should wake up to the realities of society today, where middle school sex education is a necessity. Even at such an early age many students are already sexually active. Comprehensive sexual education programs can give students the tools and information they need to be sexually responsible.



3 comments on “Hysteria stalls sex education at Hardy Middle
  1. I find it interesting how a school (many actually)will put things to a halt because of a ‘vocal minority’ on questionnaire about sexual identity but doesn’t do a darn thing when kids are physically being harassed by other students in their schools, even when it is brought to their attention.

    12 years old is certainly NOT too young for these questions because 12 year olds are already talking about these issues. How do you think it is that 2 of the kids who completed suicide were only 13 years old?

    This is common sense, and it’s sad that these parents are lacking this common sense. These are the parents who perpetuate the stereotypes and the lies that are told about the LGBT community that leads to their children harassing other students.

    It is a matter of education and it’s sad that these parents will deprive, not only their kids but, every kid of standard education because of their own ideology.

  2. Adam on said:

    Did you see the questionaire? Look at it and tell me if you’d be fine with having anyone ask your daughter these questions without your knowledge or consent. Part of parental responsibility is making sure that 12 year olds are personally responsibe and adult activities be left for adults. It is not okay to assume that tweens are involved in oral and anal sex within the past month.

  3. Adam,

    a questionnaire doesn’t assume anything. The fact is that there are 12 year olds doing that kind of stuff and there is not a single 12 year old that hasn’t heard of those because, after all, they go to school with other kids who talk about it.

    I will gladly say that I never gave in to peer pressure. I have never taken drugs, and I remained a virgin until I was 19 years old. My family was and is proud of me for sticking to my own values. This does not mean that I didn’t have peer pressure to do those things.

    By the age of 10, I knew what drugs were and I knew what sex was. It was all other students talked about. Other students asked on a regular basis if I engaged in them.

    Parents SHOULD be asking what their 12 year olds are doing. We have an issue with teen pregnancies as well as drug use in our country. Many parents refuse to talk to their kids about it because they assume that their kids know better.

    Why is it such a bad thing that the schools want to learn their own demographics? It would really help both the school and the parents to better learn what is going on and figure ways to promote the positive and deter the negative.

    No, I did not see the questions, there wasn’t a link to them in this post that I can tell, however, I do know kids. Some of them (not all and maybe not even a majority) are causing some serious harm to themselves and their futures. It is time that we figured out what it is that they are involved in and find a way to fix some of these issues. I’m sorry, you’re not going to get there by dancing around the subject.
    Mike

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