A West Michigan school district is proposing that middle school students learn about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues as part of their new sex education curriculum.
The Saugatuck Middle School sexual advisory committee is proposing that students watch the video “Coming Out: What Every Teen (Gay or Straight) Needs To Know.” Among other issues, the video focuses on tolerance, bullying and identity issues.
The curriculum, if approved will be taught to eighth grade students. I commend the school district for seeking to implement such a vital part of sexual education.
Of course, this curriculum is being met with some opposition. The video is available for parents to watch, but the issue has the community buzzing. Some of the parents say the discussion of alternative lifestyles should come from home, but clearly that is part of the problem with much of the bullying and harassment that goes on in school. Often kids learn from parents that being gay or lesbian is wrong or bad, or maybe it is simply frowned upon in unspoken ways in some homes.
Bullies are made at home, but even if an aversion to the gay and lesbian population is taught at home, teaching tolerance at school can help a child see a different way. By having gay and lesbian students accepted by the school community it will help lessen the stigma and just might as a byproduct desensitize the bullying atmosphere. The elephant in the room will be vanished so the sense that it’s ok to bully a child who is gay or lesbian will be less accepted by peers. The curriculum may also promote tolerance simply by the act of discussing those topics right alongside the other sexual education topics.
For gay and lesbian students, it sends a clear message, that who they are is ok, that they have rights, and will be protected by their school. That speaks volumes.
I wish every school would incorporate a curriculum of this kind. My only problem with it is the age. I think it should be incorporated for younger children as well. By eighth grade, at age 13 and 14, bullying may have gone on for years already. Kids in early middle school, 5th or 6th grade would surely benefit from it as well.
What do you think? Do you approve of the curriculum? What age do you think is ideal?