Sun, Jan 28, 2018 - Page 6 News List

EDITORIAL: Realistic sex education is necessary

Parents’ associations on Wednesday criticized several junior-high and high-school sex education textbooks for including “inappropriate and misleading” information about sex and gender issues.

Their biggest points of contention were a link in one textbook to the Web site of National Central University’s Center for the Study of Sexualities, which contains information about necrophilia, zoophilia, sadomasochism and group sex. Another disputed point was a line in an eighth-grade textbook that says sexual needs should be satisfied on condition of mutual respect, consent and without hurting others.

“The sentence is inappropriate, because the legal age for sexual intercourse is 16,” said Wang Li-sheng (王立昇), head of the National Alliance of Presidents of Parents’ Associations’ think tank.

The association also criticized a section that said a woman should remain chaste until marriage and remain loyal to her husband until her death, saying these are ethical concepts that are not compatible with modern social norms.

Terms used in the text such as “homophobia” should be replaced with “phobic of homosexual people,” because homophobia is not a sickness, they said, adding that a reference to “heterosexual hegemony” should be replaced with “heterosexual mainstream,” and that masturbation should not be taught in the classroom.

US parents have also protested what they see as departures from traditional ideas in sex-education curricula. Parents in the progressive city of Fremont, California, in 2014 petitioned to replace a ninth-grade textbook that referred to sexual activity involving bondage and sensory deprivation, Alexandra Sifferlin wrote in an article for Time magazine’s Web site.

Local school board president Lara Calvert-York argued against the petition, saying that as children are already exposed to highly sexualized content on television and online, they should be taught about what they are seeing by teachers who are well-equipped to answer their questions.

A sample study that year found that, of the 1,500 students aged 10 to 17 polled, half had been exposed to pornography on the Internet. In a separate survey, 200 of the 1,000 middle-school students polled said they had received explicit text or picture messages. Nearly 80 percent of teens aged 15 to 17 had not received any formal sex education before losing their virginity, a study last year by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.

In the US, many states have looked to parents for input in educating children about sex. Thirty-seven states and Washington allow parental involvement, five explicitly require parental consent and 35 allow parents to opt their children out of sex-ed classes altogether. At a national level, US education policy requires only that students receive formal instruction about abstinence, birth control methods and prevention of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections.

In Taiwan, a survey by the Child Welfare League Foundation released in July last year found that many parents and teachers avoided teaching children about sex, and that while most adolescents knew about birth control, many were misinformed.

Adolescents might not be well-equipped to express their feelings, deal with abusive relationships or avoid disease and unwanted pregnancy, foundation executive director Chen Li-ju (陳麗如) said.

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