Sexual-education standards are needed in public schools because children deserve to learn that they have ownership of their bodies. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Sexual-education standards are needed in public schools because children deserve to learn that they have ownership of their bodies. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Why we need sex-ed in public schools starting in kindergarten

All children, starting at a young age, deserve to be taught that they have ownership of their bodies.

One day, when I was teaching kindergarten almost 15 years ago, one of my students raced into my classroom.“Mrs. Bardsley! Mrs. Bardsley, come quick!” Freddy hollered. It was the middle of recess and I was brewing tea.

“What is it?” I asked, as I tossed my teabag into the trash.

Freddy’s blue eyes were wide with fright. “Mary has something caught in her penis!”

I abandoned my tea and ran after him, my mind spinning with questions. Sure enough, at the entrance to the restrooms we could both hear Mary call for help. I propped the girls’ door open but remained outside in the sunlight where other adults could see me.

It took some time, but I was able to talk Mary through her problem. It turned out that Mary had toilet paper stuck where it didn’t belong — not in her penis, because she didn’t have one — but another place where toilet paper can get stuck.

We need sexual education in public schools because children as young as 5 deserve to know about body parts. While kindergartners don’t need to learn about sex, STDs or condoms, they do need to understand basic anatomy so that they can reach out to adults for help.

Toilet paper drama is easy to solve, but many children face graver challenges. According to Darkness to Light, a national organization working to prevent child sexual abuse, about 1 in 7 girls and 1 in 25 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18. Almost 30% of those children are abused by a family member.

Right now, lawmakers are discussing a sexual health education bill that would mandate comprehensive, age appropriate, scientifically-based sexual education standards in our state. It covers topics like abstinence, the dangers of alcohol and risky behavior, sexual orientation and consent, but gives parents the choice of opting their students out. This bill is so needed that I’m flabbergasted it’s even up for debate.

I’ve heard parents opposed to the sex-ed bill say that if it passes they will homeschool their children. They believe that passing educational standards is like giving legislators a blank check to teach whatever they want in public schools. They think that homeschooling is safer. I, too, am concerned about safety, but I believe this bill is the best way to safeguard a large number of children.

First of all, school districts have control over how standards are implemented. They choose the curricula that meet the state standards. School districts work with parents to choose curricula.

Second, homeschooling your child is no guarantee of safety. In fact, sexual abuse happened in one of the most famous homeschooling families of all — the Duggars from “19 Kids and Counting.”

Would a public school’s sex-education program have helped those girls? We’ll never know. But it’s enough to convince me that all children, starting at a young age, deserve to be taught that they have ownership of their bodies. Come on, lawmakers, do the right thing.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at teachingmybabytoread@gmail.com.

Talk to us

More in Life

Veteran Keith F. Reyes, 64, gets his monthly pedicure at Nail Flare on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021 in Stanwood, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
No more gnarly feet: This ‘Wounded Warrior’ gets pedicures

Keith Reyes, 64, visits a Stanwood nail salon for “foot treatments” that help soothe blast injuries.

Eggs Florentine
Baked Eggs Florentine: A brunch favorite inspired by a queen

The kitchen manager at Quil Ceda Creek Casino shares a dish that pays homage to a spinach-crazy 16th century monarch.

Jennifer Bardsley, author of her newest book Good Catch, at her home on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021 in Edmonds, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds author transitions from young adult novels to romance

Jennifer Bardsley’s “Good Catch” is set in an Edmonds-like town. Spoiler alert: There’s a happy ending.

Caption: They might be too old for lunch box notes, but teenagers benefit from TLC too.
Fun ways to show the teens in your life that you care

The teen years can be challenging but they don’t last long. A little bit of extra attention can go a long way.

This easy-to-make spinach and mushroom quiche is perfect for a light dinner or fancy brunch. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)
Gretchen’s table: A spinach-mushroom quiche with cheesy goodness

The savory egg custard baked in a pie crust is easy to make — especially if you use a refrigerated crust.

Nissan’s signature V-motion grille dominates the 2022 Pathfinder’s front. Look closely and you’ll see three slots at the top, a tribute to the original 1986 Pathfinder. (Manufacturer photo)
Nissan Pathfinder comes full circle with all-new 2022 version

The three-row mid-size SUV gains modern amenities but returns to the rugged impression of the original.

Jack Rice, left, gives his grandmother Carolyn Rice, a tutorial on her new tablet Saturday afternoon in Edmonds on November 20, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Need to Ring or Zoom? Edmonds teen comes to the rescue

Jack Rice, 17, started a free service to help seniors connect with tech. “He’s a hero around here.”

Herr Jung leads a group through Bacharach, Germany.
Rick Steves’ Europe: Lessons from a schoolmaster on the Rhine

Herr Jung dedicated his life to sharing Germany’s hard history so others can learn from it.

How to transform past shame into something positive and healthy

Tips on coping with the shame that we carry around in our hearts and on our sleeves.

Header, garden shovel or spade puts into soil, green meadow in the back, low angle shot
Regenerative gardening helps save the planet one garden at a time

Regenerative gardening is founded on the principle that if we take care of our soils then everything else will work out for the best.

She canceled her Iceland trip in time. Where’s her refund?

When Kim Josund cancels her trip to Iceland, she believes she’s entitled to a full refund. Why are her hotel and dive operator refusing?

GPP
Great Plant Pick: Acer tegmentosum “Joe Witt”

This Manchurian snakebark maple boasts beautiful highly striped white bark that brightens the shade garden.