My own, keep-it-in-the-family views on sex education have been discussed before, but I would love to know what supporters of sexual education in public schools think of the point that Jim Geraghty makes here (via reader Robert K Wright) regarding the controversy over Barack Obama and “comprehensive sex education” for kindergartners:
On the sex ed bill, it’s possible that Obama had the best of intentions, but the bill text did include, “Each class or course in comprehensive sex education offered in any of grades K through 12 shall include instruction on the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including the prevention, transmission and spread of HIV.” Do kids really need to know about STDs starting at age 5? Isn’t it a strong argument that the “good touch-bad touch” stuff could start that early, but the nitty-gritty about exchanging bodily fluids could wait until the kids are at least a little closer to double digits?
Of course, say I, and while I understand that the legislation in question wasn’t sponsored by Obama, that it included an opt-out clause, that it was only about insisting on “medical accuracy” in classes that were already being taught and didn’t push for the creation of any new classes … in short, while I understand that the McCain ad on this topic is utterly and inexcusably misleading, doesn’t it seem that there’s a fair criticism to be made here? I mean, if (for whatever reason) we’re going to be offering “comprehensive sex education” to five-year-olds, why in the world should it be required to include information on STDs and how to prevent them?
And so I ask you, dear readers: Would an ad that focused just on this point – and again, and contra Geraghty, I agree that the text of the ad as it stands is indeed horribly unfair – have been acceptable? Would such a criticism have been a reasonable one? Should our politicians really be supporting bills that require kindergarten sex ed programs to teach kids about AIDS and condoms, and does the fact that Obama supported such a bill reflect at all poorly on him?
[UPDATE: More here.]