Should Teens Be Educated About Sexuality at an Earlier Age?

“Should teens be educated about sexuality at an earlier age?” Honestly, this question is at the heart of discussions across the country as vocal groups continue to press for increasing parental control over what is discussed and read in schools.

Years ago, “book banning” was common and well-regarded novels were often pulled from library shelves.  Sadly this practice is seeing a resurgence, particularly in Florida with the recent passage of the “Don’t Say Gay Bill”.  This bill is particularly troublesome and especially harmful to individuals and families in the LGBTQ community. It makes their lifestyle appear unworthy and can result in their children being uncomfortable, teased, and even ostracized.

Educating today’s youth about sexuality, in a developmentally appropriate way, is wise. Clearly, what you would teach a 15-year-old is incredibly different than what you would share with a class of first-grade students.

That said, children are naturally curious, and when we, as adults, refrain from teaching certain things until “they are older” they simply obtain information on their own.  Unfortunately, they learn from their friends and social media, and not only is information provided in ways that may be inappropriate but what they learn is often incorrect and misleading. It is critical to realize that not teaching our children something doesn’t prevent them from learning about it - it only impacts the way that they assimilate information.

Knowledge is power - and providing children and teens information as they grow allows them to process it and learn appropriately. When children (and adults) are introduced to things and understand them,  they are more likely to be accepting and even welcoming.

As more and more individuals become comfortable with expressing their true selves, society becomes more diverse. By teaching sexuality to younger teens, those who identify differently than the majority, we provide them valuable information, important history, and maybe even resources and role models.  We normalize individuality and help to provide all young people the knowledge they need to become comfortable in their own skin, appreciate others, and become less judgemental.

In short, educating teens about sexuality at a younger age is important - but the lessons should be developmentally appropriate and have specific objectives and goals. Schools should foster learning to make us all more responsible, accepting, and functioning individuals.