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Sex Education for Kindergartners

The McCain-Obama sex education for kindergartners flap doesn't seem to be going away. Despite the best efforts of the traditional news media to deny reality, the facts have been trickling out thanks primarily to alternative media outlets like National Review Online (here and here), The Weekly Standard, and Rush Limbaugh.

But there is a whole lot more to this story that hasn't been widely reported yet--and it needs to be.

As I documented in chapters 12 and 13 of my book Darwin Day in America, there is a growing movement in the United States to provide explicit sex education to very young children. I''s a movement that thoughtful parents have every right to be disturbed about. What is scandalous is the way "mainstream" reporters are doing their best to make sure nobody finds out what is actually being proposed.

First, a recap of the current brouhaha: The flap started earlier this month when the McCain campaign aired an inflammatory ad accusing Senator Obama of supporting a bill in the Illinois legislature that would have required comprehensive sex ed for children starting in kindergarten. For days, the ad was denounced by most major media outlets as a contemptible lie. Too bad the journalists making such claims didn't bother to read the legislation for themselves. Had they done so, they would have seen that the bill for comprehensive sex education supported by Sen. Obama clearly proposed expanding instruction about sexually transmitted diseases from grades "6-12" to grades "K-12" (see pages 1, 5, and 9 of the bill).

What has yet to be widely reported is that the bill supported by Obama is part of a much broader campaign by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) to implement its radical Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education: Kindergarten through 12th Grade in school districts across the nation. The SIECUS guidelines make clear that sex ed for kindergartners is precisely what the mainline sex education lobby wants right now, and last year the Obama campaign itself cited the SIECUS guidelines as an example of the kind of "age appropriate" sex education that Sen. Obama favors.

According to the SIECUS standards, children starting at age 5 are supposed to be taught about vaginal intercourse (p. 26), homosexual relationships (p. 29), same-sex marriage (p. 39), masturbation (pp. 51-52), unwanted pregnancies (p. 61), AIDS (p. 65), and other sexually transmitted diseases (p. 63). That's right, all this starting at age 5. If you don't believe me, read the SIECUS guidelines for yourself. One can support "age appropriate" sex education (as I do) without embracing SIECUS's intrusive effort to force five-year-olds to deal with all manner of explicit topics.

Unfortunately, SIECUS is far from a fringe organization. It is the leading "mainstream" sex education group in the United States. That's not to say it doesn't have a pretty sordid history. As I recount in detail in my book, SIECUS was founded by partisans of evolutionary biologist Alfred Kinsey, who revolutionized sexual morality by attempting to apply a reductionist Darwinian approach to human sexuality.

In Kinsey's view, so long as you could find a sexual practice occurring among animals somewhere in nature, that practice must constitute "normal mammalian behavior" and should not be condemned. Kinsey's approach led him to denounce efforts to stigmatize such behaviors as bestiality, and even to downplay the seriousness of child molestation. (For extensive documentation, see my book.)

Although SIECUS has always tried to cultivate a public image of moderation, in the past it has promoted the work of scholars with views even more radical than that of Kinsey. Indeed, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, SIECUS finally began to attract notoriety for promoting the views of sociologist Floyd Martinson, who claimed that incest could be a positive experience for children and who tried to legitimize child molestation by arguing that "in sex, as in most aspects of life, the older teach the younger." SIECUS founder Mary Calderone, meanwhile, argued for the "acceptance of the sexuality of children and infants," and urged that "this must happen if 3-year-olds are to achieve ownership of their own bodies with all of their functions." (You can find these views of Martinson and Calderone clearly expressed in their contributions to the 1981 book Sex Education in the Eighties: The Challenge of Healthy Sexual Evolution, a volume originally commissioned by the SIECUS board of directors). After facing scorching criticism for its association with such nutty views, SIECUS in recent years has backtracked, but its underlying agenda of undermining traditional sexual standards remains. (Again, for the details, read my book.)

I'm not exactly surprised that the traditional news media have botched the current story. Like media coverage of the evolution issue, reporting on sex education since the 1960s has been dominated by stereotypes and ideological bias. As I recount in my book, during the past four decades most "mainstream" journalists have chosen to depict nearly every controversy over sex education as a battle between the forces of enlightenment and moderation (represented by sex ed reformers) and the forces of darkness and extremism (represented by any parents or citizens who refuse to go along with the sex ed reformers agenda.) Journalists almost never expose the extremists who dominate the sex ed lobby itself. Fortunately, fewer and fewer people rely on the "mainstream" media as their only source for facts.