The controversy at MHS over sex education is largely about the messenger, not the message. Most opponents of the proposed speaker advocate a sex education program at the school. Those parents who oppose the speaker do not feel “ignorance is bliss,” nor are they “in fear” as The Malibu Times story suggests.
What they want is the best possible program for their children. They want the introduction of the topic to conform with national SEICUS (Sex Education Information Council of the United States) guidelines. This means a six- to 12-hour curriculum broken down into several topics, one that features support and group discussion. They want the materials and array of short brochures published by Planned Parenthood to be available to their kids.
Opponents do not feel that the one-hour talk in its current structure best achieves their common goal of good sex education. They feel the introduction to facts, and the introduction to decision-making skills that lead to responsible conduct can be better presented.
Moreover, according to the principal, half the parents aren’t convinced this is the right woman for the job. They prefer someone with an advanced degree in education or psychology. They’d settle for one who had completed some course of study in adolescent behavior or development. They’d hope for a couple school districts clearly named on the resume.
But this speaker has a bachelor’s degree. Her book is targeted for adults. Her resume notes lecturing engagements at “1000 college campuses.” Parents question the number and location of lectures actually performed for grades six through 12. They ask themselves if the owner/founder of a store that sells sexual paraphernalia in Hollywood is the speaker of choice for 11- to 17-year-olds.
They long for a more moderate approach to the assemblies. This is not to say dull or clinical. It can be frank and warm and humorous. Sexuality is the most tender of human expression. Sexuality is a lifelong learning process. Many parents don’t think the subject of intimacy needs to be delivered in the manner of a talk-show host striding up and down the aisles. But the speaker is an actress/comedienne and she does just that.
Some parents think the speaker’s MTV/Beavis and Butthead/in-your-face style of humor is the only way to reach young people. The children of those parents will attend the assemblies. The children of those who do not view sex education as “entertainment” (or of those who have deep spiritual beliefs that conflict with the assemblies) probably won’t attend.