Sexuality education has a long history of being put into other classes, specifically science and physical education. While I strongly support integrating a discussion of sexuality, sexual development and sexual health into many areas of the curriculum, I also believe that adolescents need a specific safe and supportive class in which to learn, think, and ask questions about this sensitive topic.
Does it matter what teachers’ backgrounds are once they’ve taken on the task of teaching sex ed? Technically, their particular degree might not matter as much as their knowledge of and enthusiasm for the subject matter. I offer my support and commendation to any teachers excited to bring discussion of sexuality into their classrooms. But I get a very different image from friends’ stories from about hesitant, awkward and grossed out teachers who just had to do the sex ed unit.
Not only the teaching style but also the curriculum changes depending on where the school puts sex ed. The aspects of the sexuality that are emphasized depend on the context in which the material is presented. While science classes might focus specifically on the reproductive system, a physical education class might stress how to take care of a growing body. Furthermore, students will expect the lessons to take on these tones and may not even think to ask questions about the social and emotional aspects of their sexual development.
How will students feel when they’re told that today’s gym lesson has been canceled due to the sex ed requirement? What attitude will they take toward sex ed and sexual health? What will they perceive about the value of sex ed and its importance in their lives? What will they do when they have questions or need help?
I chose this topic because I’ve been told to expect official notice that the school district I currently work in will not need me next year. Instead of hiring teachers specifically to teach health, they will instead require physical education teachers to cover my topic. While upset, I’m not that worried about myself and my career. But what will become of my students?