There are moments in the day when you just have to scratch your head and wonder what people are thinking. A perfect example is a woman in Lewiston, Maine, who walked into two public libraries and checked out an acclaimed sex education book.
No big deal, right? People check books out from the library every day. Well, not everyone checks out the same book from multiple libraries and then sends money to each library to cover the costs of each book, saying they are not going to return it. The woman, JoAn Karkos, said she was "horrified" by the graphic nature of acclaimed sex education book It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health.
I can't attest to what's in the book since I haven't read it, but sex education is always going to be a touchy (no pun intended) subject. There are going to be those who say that as far as sex education goes, it’s abstinence only or nothing at all. There are going to be those (like me) who think the more information provided about sex will make our younger people smarter, which could lead to better decisions regarding sexual partners and when to start having sex. There are going to those who say handing out condoms will start an orgy, and those (like me) who say condoms will reduce the number of sexually transmitted diseases in our younger population.
In my time in public schools in Michigan, the most my high school went into sex education was a week's worth of videos about birth, sexually transmitted infections, and how I shouldn't have sex until I'm married. In the district I was a part of, it seemed that whenever the community cried foul about sex education getting too "graphic," the school district folded like a cheap card table and gave in to the more conservative voices instead of opening the forum to public discussion about the benefits of an open and honest education when it comes to sex.
In college, I had a couple of very good sex education courses that were graphic to the nth degree and it made the students squirm to listen to an old man talk about erections and orgasms. Sure, it was a "liberal" course at a "liberal" college, where we had group discussions after the classroom session let out, but it was the one class in college I remember more than the rest.
In the group sessions, we talked about our fears and how we felt about sex and relationships. These were some of the most intimate conversations I've had with anyone. We could be as open and frank as we wanted. Nobody was going to judge us for anything we shared, and nobody was going to censor us.
What Karkos did borders on censorship.
In a letter addressed to one of the libraries, Karkos wrote, “I have been sufficiently horrified of the illustrations and sexually graphic, amoral, abnormal contents. I will not be returning the books," she said, according to ABC affiliate WMTW. With the letter, she included $20.95 to cover the cost of the book.
Amoral, abnormal contents in a book that was written and illustrated to educate the masses? Are we in America this conservative about our bodies, and what we do with them, that cartoon-like drawings and frank discussions about how our bodies change is considered amoral? Are we that voyeuristic to want to pry into the lives of citizens and tell them what they can and can't do with their body?
When are we as a country going to wake up and realize that knowledge is power, and that the more information we give our young adults the more well-rounded they're going to be when they reach adulthood? Why do we view sex as something dirty when it's brought up in the public domain?
That's why we need to overhaul the chapter of public education that makes it inappropriate for public schools to teach a realistic version of sex education. If parents want to keep their children out of the discussion, they're more than welcome to excuse their child from the lessons without penalty.
One thing's for sure: we've got to stop our collective thinking that sex is dirty, and look at it as if it is a natural part of life, because — wait for it — it is a natural part of life. Karkos should return the books, pay for whatever late fines she accumulated, and let the issue rest. As for the rest of us, we need to start a new conversation about how we are sexual beings. This will make some very uncomfortable, but it will benefit many more in the long run.Powered by Sidelines