Monday, April 24, 2006

Birds, Bees—And Yes, Flies Too

A few days ago I went to maturation training in Lehi, Utah, with my 11-year-old fifth grader, who is definitely already showing signs of puberty (pimples and hair, mostly). He’s a big, somewhat chubby guy, so he’s ahead of the curve as far as physical development goes.

I grew up in the Los Angeles area, and I remember getting my training at this same age. What a time warp! In 1977 they showed us films and went into a lot more detail. In 2006 an old guy got up in front of the white board and sketched in a few details. At the end, I felt so much had been left out that I raised my hand and said, “Uh, does part two come next year, or what?”

The guy put on a forced smile and said, “Nope, that’s all we offer.” A lady turned around, pointed at me, and said, “You’re part two.” (It was weird having a few mothers in there; I remember it was strictly a father-and-son outing in California.)

Anyway, all the Utah school did was get the ball rolling. They covered nocturnal emissions and menstrual cycles, but they didn’t even come close to talking about intercourse or masturbation, let alone birth control or disease prevention. I remember that in California they taught us that masturbation was normal and healthy, and afterward my dad told me it was wrong and Mormons don’t believe in it.

This Utah guy actually spent quite a bit of time on emotional and social maturity, which I thought was pretty good. At the end, they gave all the kids their own stick of deodorant. I’m wondering if this district does any further training on condoms or whatever in high school health class, or is this truly the extent of sex education in Utah?

So anyway, I have mixed feelings. In some ways I appreciate that the district just gave the ball a gentle shove, and now it’s up to the parents to finish it. However, I’m not likely to pursue my son about these issues, and he’s not the type to ask me much. He’s only just barely begun to figure out about Santa Claus, and I don’t know if he has any clue what parents do in their beds when the lights are out . . .


C. L. Hanson said...

In Minnesota in the '80's, in fourth grade we did a unit on animal reproduction, then in fifth grade they divided up the boys and girls and taught them about the reproductive system of their own gender, then in sixth grade the same thing for the opposite gender.

I actually wrote about it in one of the journal entries I posted here: Little girls, little girls, everywhere I turn.... Not only did I recount this event in my journal, there's at least one earlier entry in the same journal where I mentioned that sex ed was coming up!!! Yay!!! lol

We got a more detailed unit on human reproduction in Jr. High and then again in High School. Notably this included memorizing the symptoms and long-term effects of all of the most common STDs and the effectiveness rates and drawbacks of all of the standard contraceptives.

No mention was made of masturbation as far as I recall, and I think I would have remembered that since I remembered the lessons on it in church...

jana said...

My son got a stick of deodorant at his sex ed talk, too (in SoCal). I didn't attend (it was called "guys night"), but my husband said they only talked about guy stuff--meaning that they didn't talk much at all about girls bodies or sex. The focus was on body odor, wet dreams, and such. They touched briefly on masturbation and said that each of the boys should have a follow-up conversation with their father figure to talk about whether the family had any religious taboos about it.

I'm kind of freaked out that now that my son is 12 the Bishop will start asking him in his interviews whether he masturbates. I knew so many guys who had HUGE guilt trips over this. I don't think it's the Bish's business and I don't want my kids to feel such guilt...