The new sex-ed school curriculum will teach kids about sex. It will cover issues like consent, sexual abuse, gender identity, nudes on social media and the dangers of unsafe abortions. But some teachers want to boycott it.
Update: Parents can now opt out of the curriculum
In a whole 2019, sex is still a taboo topic. So taboo that certain teachers and parents are fighting against a new sex education school curriculum. City Press reports that this new curriculum for life orientation will be taught at schools next year, to all students between Grade 4 to 12.
But there’s been backlash by school governing body associations, IOL reports. As a result, the Basic Eduction Minister recently announced that parents have the choice to opt out of the sex ed curriculum. They can refuse for their children to attend the programme.
Related: HIV-Positive and Dating
Here are seven important things the new sex-ed school curriculum will teach kids:
1. The dangers of sending nudes
This is a serious topic for kids today, who often don’t realise how vulnerable they are in the digital world. Grade 6 learners will be taught about the dangers of sexual pics and videos on social media. They will discuss scenarios such as this one:
‘A girl considers sending a topless photo of herself to boys on a WhatsApp group and the class is required to discuss whether it’s a good idea.’
2. Consent and condoms
High school kids need to know how to have safe sex. STDs and teen pregnancy are nothing to play with, so education here is key. One grade 9 textbook has a 7-step explanation on how to use a female condom. Visuals included.
Equally important is understanding consent. With #AmINext and #MeToo still front of mind, it’s clear that these conversations are needed. Just imagine the difference it could make if consent formed part of our schooling. Now it will be.
Related: How to Withdraw Consent During Sex
The new curriculum includes a group activity in which students learn to say ‘no’ through role-play when confronted with a character trying to convince another to have sex.
3. The meaning of sexual assault and abuse
Early on, schools will teach kids about the sexual assault of children by adults and peers. Predators and pedophiles are a reality, so how do we protect children? This school curriculum has introduced a character called ‘Max’.
In Grade 5, they will be given an example of Max, who is sexually harassed and assaulted by other boys at their school. Max immediately reports it to his teacher.
This informs students of what sexual abuse looks like, and empowers them to know what to do when confronted with it. It also starts to shake the silence and shame around being a victim.
4. Gender identity vs biological identity
From as young as grade 4, kids will learn the biological names for private parts. There will also be conversations in which they explain why they think it’s private.
Then, in Grade 8, learners will be taught the difference between biological identity and gender identity. For trans and non-binary kids, this can go a long way as bullying and transphobia can be named and called out.
Grade 8 pupils will also be taught about what happens during vaginal, oral and anal sex.
5. Pregnancy and unsafe abortions
Schools will now teach learners about how pregnancy works. This will include frank discussions about the chances of getting pregnant. The curriculum will also address the serious reality of unsafe abortions in South Africa.
6. Masturbation is normal
‘This is normal and will not hurt you,’ the study guide reads. From Grade 7, students will learn that there’s nothing shameful about their bodies. And that people do masturbate – and it’s OK.
7. Sexual orientation is not a choice
So, so key in addressing homophobia. Grade 10 and 11 pupils will learn about the various sexual orientations. They will be taught at school-level that it’s not a choice. They will also be taught to accept transgender people and respect how they identify. Imagine accepting, respecting and celebrating different sexual orientations? Kids, it’s ok to be queer!
The Boycott, SMFH
Unfortunately, some teachers are also threatening to boycott the new sex-ed school curriculum. Chris Klopper, of the SA Teacher Union, says they are shocked and called the material ‘grossly insensitive’. Christian lobby groups are outraged at the ‘normalisation’ of homosexuality in the curriculum. SMH.
The minister of basic education explains that they started revising the curriculum in 2011 already because the focus on HIV and pregnancy did not have the desired outcome. The education department still strongly promotes abstinence until a suitable age. But the curriculum is now aligned with the UN’s international guidelines.
There is also concern that the information will ‘confuse kids even more’. While this concern is wildly patronising, it’s also misguided. We live in a world where it’s simply too dangerous for young people not to know the seven things above.
Some teachers feel uncomfortable teaching this curriculum. But the protection of our youth is more important than their discomfort. So maybe it’s a matter of training.
IOL mentions that further training may be the way forward, as this is a difficult topic to teach. ‘It is important that teachers get training in order to be able to handle this topic and present to learners,’ says Johan Kruger of the SA Teachers Union.
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