Opinions
Alison Gowling/The Gauntlet

No sex please, we're Calgarians

Asking kids the tough questions, regardless of their answers

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A few years ago I attended a New Year's party in a town just south of our fair city. Attending said party was the host and hostess, their children, their children's friends (of whom I was one) and some neighbours. One of the neighbours was a 14-year-old girl. She seemed no different from any other 14-year-old girl aside from the fact that she had an 18-month-old child. Now, I did the math there and then. Given nine months for gestation, added to the 18, and that 14-year-old was pregnant over two years earlier. The Christian Messiah and artificial insemination notwithstanding, one gets pregnant through coitus--that is, sexual intercourse.

While this sad picture always stuck with me, I hadn't really thought of it until early September. One of our local papers ran a story on the Calgary school boards' both public and separate, refusing to allow their students to take part in a Health Canada survey on sex. In the survey, students in Grades 7, 9 and 11 are asked questions about whether they're on birth control, where they buy condoms and their sexual experiences including kissing, fondling, fellatio, cunnilingus and coitus. Other questions regarding religious affiliation, family information, peer relationships and bullying are also asked.

Upon hearing of the survey, Learning Minister Lyle Oberg said, "I don't want my child in Grade 7 being asked those questions."

Well Mr. Oberg, if you're not willing to allow Health Canada to ask your child those questions, I hope you have the courage to ask them yourself. Sexual education is a serious topic but is not treated as one. In school we learn about fallopian tubes and ovaries. But that's reproductive education, not sex.

Back in about 1993, Dr. Joycelyn Elders--Clinton's first Surgeon General--told the press and the United Nations, heck she told the world, that something must be done about sex education. Children were being told about how to have sex when they were too young to handle sex's emotional responsibilities. Dr. Elders recommended children be told of alternatives to coitus--that is, penetrative sex--such as masturbation. Now the media took this to mean that masturbation should be taught in school. If it were, my grade point average would have been much higher.

Now, if a respected professional like Dr. Elders believes that educating our children properly about sex is important, what is all the ruckus about some Health Canada survey? Is it the results that will scare Minister Oberg? I'll give you the results: over half of 15-year-olds have had sex and damn near every male is masturbating like they are training for the Olympics. And when it comes to sex, kids think coitus and only coitus because if they knew of the options people like Dr. Elders mentioned I would have never spent an evening with a 14-year-old mother and her 18-month-old child.

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