Researching homeschool high school Biology curriculum for my sons cracked my faith.
I had homeschooled my four kids, but the girls went to high school after homeschooling through 8th grade. The boys, we decided, would stay home a bit longer and take ancillary classes at a local parent-partnership program. These are public school entities that offer supplemental classes– or full programs– to home-based students.
At first, I wanted them to have Biology from a Christian perspective but I didn’t realize that would mean it lacked a basis in science. I was clearly ignorant that there was a major difference between Christian and secular science. I thought that science is science, no matter the setting. I researched curriculum, as I always did, during the preceding year prior to needing it. While researching, I wrote a very pointed post on my homeschool blog about my search and irritation at the lack of good options.
No matter which homeschool curriculum I looked at, I discovered that NONE covered human sexuality.
None covered reproduction. None covered sexual health or abuse. I was forced to look beyond the popular homeschool biology curricula available and examine secular texts. We settled on an online Biology program that the PPP offered a lab class for, and they had a very good, thorough course of Biology instruction. But my experience with this subject forced open some huge fissures in my assurance in my faith. I knew biology was science and I knew that Christian biology skipped a lot of very important topics. The Abeka Biology book I picked up had fantastic transparencies of body systems but reproductive organs weren’t shown in any of them.
Why are Christians so afraid of teaching children about healthy sexuality?
We aren’t sexless beings. Why would a parent NOT want their teens to know how to guard against sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy? Some communities are more conservative than others, and I’ve often heard about parents trying to block sexuality from being taught in schools. I read recently that the most religious states in the US have the highest abortion rates. In 2014, only 38% of the women who had abortions were non-religious. Doesn’t this seem to be a contradiction? But think about it. The more religiously-based a state’s laws are, the less likely they are to teach about healthy sexuality in schools and give priority to funding programs like Planned Parenthood. And lest you think that the only thing Planned Parenthood does is perform abortions, think again.
I became sexually active as a young teen.
This wasn’t something I could discuss with my parents, and I couldn’t exactly say, “Hey Mom, can you take me to the doctor so I can get on birth control?” My Mom’s sex talk was basically, “Just don’t have sex, because I said so.”. As every other sexually active teenage girl I knew did, I went down to Planned Parenthood. They gave me a female exam and put me on birth control. Every three months I would go back in for a ‘pill refill’ appointment.
These appointments were more than just about picking up pills. The nurse practitioners taught me about STDs and how to prevent them. They taught me how to do breast self-examinations so that I could detect changes that may indicate cancer and other problems. And they asked me about my partners and if I felt safe–physically and emotionally– with them. I learned a lot from them. Without them, I would very possibly have become pregnant long before I was ready. I didn’t need to have an abortion because I had access to birth control.
These days, most high schools have taken up part of the job of giving students information on sexuality and sexual health.
These programs aren’t to be taken lightly because they can very well save a girl from becoming a mother far too young. They can save teens from the deeply personal struggle of figuring out who they are, where they fit, and if they are normal when they have feelings that are outside of their family’s accepted ‘norms’. Homeschooled students have options too, including using curriculum which teaches about sexuality from a practical, scientific perspective.
This year, my youngest son is a senior in high school. A recent parent letter announced that they are having their annual sex education curriculum viewing for parents later this month. I hope that parents will be appreciative that the school takes much of this task on themselves. Yes, ideally parents would teach their teens about healthy sexuality, but we know it is an uncomfortable series of conversations and many of us aren’t prepared to do it well.
Christian parents scream and protest about the “gay agenda”.
They say that “schools encourage kids to have sex by telling them about it and taking parents out of the equation” and yet, do they actually talk to their kids frankly and honestly about sex and sexuality? No, they do not. They react to what they disagree with, but they don’t proactively teach their kids about sex. That the abstinence-only Purity Movement among Christian churches and schools has left behind a trail of damaged adults is no surprise. Even Josh Harris, the author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye has apologized for the damage that his book caused hundreds of thousands of Christian teenagers and pulled it from publication.
I didn’t go through abstinence education or the purity culture of the 90s-2000s.
I was brainwashed and indoctrinated by an Evangelical Christian church as an adult. I am still working through issues related to the messed up, patriarchal view of personhood and sex that was filtered to me through the Assemblies of God. Our kids do not deserve to be misled. Abstinence-only and biology-based sex ed is sadly ineffective and lacking important information that teenagers need. While biology knowledge is important, knowledge of how sex organs and hormones affect the body and sexuality makes the entire subject valuable. Christianity treats sexuality as something that isn’t a choice. Your duty to your spouse IS your sexuality and besides being entirely patriarchal, this approach ignores the fact that sexuality forms identity.
Our kids need to be prepared with real, thoughtful tools to handle issues like consent, gender identity, boundaries, and healthy sexual choices. It’s only the rest of their lives.