André Wright, Opinion Editor
There's nothing like bopping to Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Count Basie that possesses a man to rustle up breakfast and lunch as I did at midnight Monday.
So as I whipped up some white rice and bully beef and pasta, it got me pondering the philosophical question of the month: When exactly did I become a straight-as-an-arrow heterosexual?
This was sparked by TVJ's story that caused the Ministry of Education, caught with its pants down, to hastily recall the curriculum guide for health and family life education for seventh- to ninth-graders. The controversy hinged on what many deem to be ultra-intrusive, age-inappropriate content, some of which, in the minds of parents, seemed to have been scripted along the lines of a Salem witch-hunt inquisition.
The preposterous question prompting kids to identify when they discovered they were heterosexual suggests that there is a literal decision to be made at the fork in the road. Sexuality is a lot more complex, and a lot more simple, than that.
Back to when I knew I was a HETEROSEXUAL.
For me, it might have been when I told my mother, while I was still in kindergarten and wearing short pants, that whatever she was saying didn't matter because Debra Williams loved me. And I wasn't afraid of Debra's soldier dad either.
Or it might have been when I got the chance to sit beside the prettiest girl in prep school, Shauna Bailey. I was in awe, too shy to even talk to her. Just being an arm's length away was heaven enough.
Or maybe it was as a seven- or eight-year-old, when I settled into the couch on Sunday afternoons in the mid-1980s to watch swimsuit-clad women on Love Boat.
Perhaps I'll never know when.
Despite all the noise about the deplorable math and English grades in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations, there is a core subject that should concern our parents and school administrators more than algebra and conjugation. It's called sex.
Too many parents are convinced that any exposure - even for protective or preventative purposes - to knowledge of sex will ruin their children's lives. Pity they're unaware that those angel wings were clipped years ago. So with their heads in the clouds, parents seek to shelter their goody-two-shoes daughter, not knowing that she's already the go-to girl for the schoolroom 'battery' with members of the football team.
And bow tie-wearing, strait-laced sonny might be acing all the questions in Sunday School, but could be on the fast track from Songs of Solomon to becoming a bedroom bully.
Protecting kids is an essential responsibility of parents, schools and society, broadly. But overprotectiveness, and the encouragement of ignorance, can be just as dangerous - if not more so - as exposure to perversion. The thing is, your son or daughter WILL inevitably be educated about sex. And if you and the school - the superparent which spends more waking hours with your kid than you do - don't fill in the blanks, that classmate who watches porn all night long, or sleeps in a one-room hovel watching adults bump and grind a few feet away, will educate your child for you.
MORE STAKEHOLDERS SHOULD BE ON BOARD
But sex education can't be programmed and executed in a vacuum. Something as controversial, socially game-changing, and culturally transformative must be subjected to rigorous checks and multi-interest approvals. And more stakeholders should be on board, including the National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica, which seemed not to be involved in the curriculum production. The Ministry of Education dropped the ball. Again.
Family-oriented education, including character development, is crucial to changing the sexual behaviour of preteens and teenagers. Teen pregnancy is still a concern, especially among those most marginalised by poverty, who are more vulnerable to being trapped in a vicious cycle.
A retired primary and junior high school principal told me yesterday about a grade-one boy who was caught poking a jumbo crayon up his classmate's vagina. And there was a grade-nine girl who tried to hang herself in a bid to escape ritual molestation by her stepdad.
In revising the curriculum content, the ministry must not waste time wringing its hands over its project cock-up. Expunge the nonsense about heterosexual seducers and what many view as a bid at influencing sexual orientation, which has set off citizens' 'gaydar'. But those who think gay and lesbian students aren't in our schools had better take their heads out of their … .
The revised curriculum guide, to include red flags for human trafficking and sexual favours, had better be reintroduced fast. Keeping kids ignorant, or educating them improperly, will just add to the production line of babymothers, deadbeat dads and sex disease patients.
Sex education needs to be taught in schools. We might be saving students from themselves, and from predatory relatives and acquaintances.
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