Charles McVety is a Canadian Christian advocate, and he's pretty worked up about Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne’s decision to teach first graders about consent as part of the revised sexual education curriculum in Ontario schools.
McVety says, "Though we applaud Kathleen Wynne’s plan to teach children to say no to sex, we abhor the premier announcing that Ontario’s teachers will be forced to teach little children how to give permission for that child to engage in sex,” McVety said. “I don’t think it is legal to advise a child before the age of sixteen on how to give sexual consent.”
Why You Need To Think About Sexual Consent Like Visiting A Friend's House
McVety gets a lot of things wrong in this very short statement. No laws are being broken. And it’s unlikely Ontario’s six year-olds are going to be sitting around singing “say ‘yes’ to sex” during their circle time.
What we have a chance to do with this new curriculum is to lay a basic foundation that younger children can build on as they grow older and develop sexually. Not only is consent key to positive sexuality, it’s key to being a respectful human being. We can talk to kids about the fact that their bodies belong to them. We can help them develop awareness of how different touches make them feel, both physically and emotionally. We can tell them that if they want to jump on someone’s back or play fight or share a big hug, they need to ask. We can teach them that they need to respect the non-verbal ways people say no to no things, like pulling away or making a sad face. We can teach them that they have a right to make choices about their body and to respect that everyone else has that same right.
Teaching Kids "No Means No" Needs To Start Younger Than You Think
Teaching the fundamentals of consent while children are young is laying groundwork. Then when they’re in later grades, applying these basic rules to sexual interactions becomes an extension of those early lessons.
I believe consent is something that families, schools, and our communities should be teaching all children. In fact, if you want some tips on how to talk to your own kids about consent at home, I’m giving a free mini-workshop on February 10th at 9 p.m. EST on Google Hangout. So throw on some PJ pants, hop online and learn how to put the “fun” back in “FUNdamental principle of positive sexuality!”
My mom gave me my first-ever book about human sexuality, and it was wonderful for three reasons: 1. Reading about sex was fun; 2. I learned some really useful things; 3. My mom had given me a pretty clear sign that she was comfortable with me learning about sex.
Sex Ed books for kids can help provide answers to their questions and prompt further discussion with parents and caregivers. As a parent, they’ve helped me develop child-friendly language so that I can talk to my own kid about sex without totally going over his head.
The Sex Talk Every Parent Needs to Hear
These are six of my favourite sex-ed books. They range in suitability from toddler right up to teen and cover a wide subject range.
Suitable for: Toddlers and up
I love this book because...
One of the first sex-related questions many children ask is “where do babies come from”? Sex educator, Cory Silverberg has created a book that explains conception, pregnancy and birth in a simple, concrete way that young children can easily understand. But what makes this book extra-special is the way the story works for children who come adoptive, single-parent, poly-parent, foster, multi-generational, gender diverse, sexually diverse and traditional families. "What Makes A Baby" is a book for every child who wants to know how they came to be.
Also? Fiona Smyth’s illustrations are magic. Her whimsical characters rendered in bright colours make every page an attention grabber.
Suitable for: Kindergarten and up
I love this book because...
I had the privilege of meeting educator, Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski at a recent conference and I instantly fell in love with her. She’s open, warm and exceptionally wise when it comes to sex ed stuff. So I admit, a big part of me loves this book, because I have a huge professional crush on the woman who wrote it.
I also love the book because I know gender is not vulva=girl, penis=boy. What I don’t always know is how to get out of that binary mode and paint a bigger gender picture for my kid. I don’t want to oversimplify it, but I can’t use my grown-up, theoretical language with a seven-year-old. So how do you explain gender diversity to a second grader? Mary Jo knows! Nonnie Talk About Gender is illustrates the concepts of gender, gender identity and gender roles using everyday language that young kids will understand. It’s an interactive book, divided into short chapters, with discussion prompts at the end of each one. There’s a teaching guide for adults, plus a glossary and list of resources. It’s a great book for children but it’s been a really valuable learning tool for me as well!
Suitable For: Preschoolers and up/ Early elementary and up/Mid-elementary and up
I love these books because...
They cover a LOT of material and teach kids about sexuality using humour, compassion and positive language. They are fabulous. They are the The Robie Harris Trilogy of Awesomeness.
The books follow the adventures of the open-minded and enthusiastic Bird and his slightly more reserved pal, Bee. They want to understand more about human beings and how our bodies work. All three books have lots of pictures.There’s ethnic, age, and body diversity. Different types of families are represented. In It’s Not The Stork, Bird and Bee learn about body parts, how babies are conceived and born and good and bad touches. In It’s So Amazing, they learn more about conception and pregnancy, adoption, sexual safety and some basics about sexually transmitted infections. And finally, in It’s Perfectly Normal, Bird and Bee find out how human bodies change through puberty, relationships, making sexual decisions, taking care of sexual health, sexual diversity, gender diversity and social media.
These are books that parents can read with their children. They’re also books that kids can thumb through on their own. You can read them from cover to cover or you can jump to a particular section and save the rest for another time. They’re my son’s favourites and he looks at them all the time.
Suitable for: Teens and up.
I love this book because...
Heather Corinna’s website, Scarleteen.com is one of the best internet resources for teens wanting information about sexuality. In S.E.X., Heather takes the same sex-positive, non-judgemental approach to sex ed that she does online. I really appreciate the respectful tone of this book. It’s clear she trusts her young reader can use the wealth of information she’s provided to make positive decisions about their sexual health and behaviour.
No one book can cover every aspect of adolescent sexuality...but S.E.X. comes as close as any I’ve read. Heather Corinna’s writing is casual, relatable and authentic. It’s easy to understand why so many youth trust her to tell them the truth about sex. If you’re looking for a sex ed book to add to your teen’s library, I highly recommend having a look at this one.
Speaking of sex ed, have you talked to your kids about condoms yet? And you know what's always hilarious? Periods (seriously, trust me on this one).