Friday, July 20, 2007

You Rock, Debra!

The Rev. Debra Haffner over at Sexuality and Religion appeared on Fox's Bill O'Reilly show last night and, in my opinion, wowed em! She was trying to reassure poor old Bill that "uterus" and "penis" and "vulva" are appropriate words for kindergartners to know, so that they understand that when mamas have babies in their tummies (the explanation most little kids get when mama is pregnant), the poor fetus isn't having chewed up food dumped on their minuscule heads, as well as the proper words for their sex organs. You can read a NewsHound post about the interview here .

I've watched the YouTube footage and laughed a good deal of the way through it, because Bill O'Reilly is almost incoherent in his outrage about how these terrible words will ruin a child's innocence and explode them into sexualized behavior. He talks over Debra, interrupts, almost foams at the mouth in his zeal to shout her down and make her look like a sex fiend who wants to destroy our youth with inappropriate language. Meanwhile, she smiles and laughs and has a great time being nice to him! She even has him admitting that they agree on a number of things. In fact, the only thing Bill could really disagree with was the use of these dreadful words in telling small children about sex in a way that is age appropriate. Oh, and the idea that trained teachers are competent to tell children about sex in the public schools.

My son, now age 35, had a good deal of sex education as he grew up---from his dad and me, from his public school, and from our Unitarian Universalist church. From his dad and me, he got the day to day stuff: names of body parts, the reproductive basics as he got old enough to ask the questions, etc. From public school he got the mechanics and the body parts stuff, though I'm not sure he got much birth control information. And in church, he got the most comprehensive education of all, covering the responsibilities of relationships, the use of birth control, frank and accepting talk about homosexuality, and non-sensational pictures of body parts in action.

You know what? In contrast to many of his peers, he has (at least to the best of my knowledge) never gotten a girl pregnant, has not had an STD, has behaved responsibly in his intimate relationships, and has a matter-of-fact attitude toward sexuality which I believe comes from an adequate and comprehensive sex education as he was growing up. From the moment he started asking questions, we tried to answer him directly and honestly and we let him participate in public school sex ed class and signed him up for the About Your Sexuality class at church, when it became available. He knew how to distinguish "good touch" from "bad touch" at an early age, did not have an inappropriate advance from anyone (again, to the best of my knowledge) and shows no signs of the kinds of fear and ignorance about sex that many of his peers show.

Kids I've known who did not have such a thorough and matter-of-fact education have not fared so well. So my experience tells me that a good sex education is far preferable to raising kids in the environment that O'Reilly favors. And if Bill himself is any kind of an example of what his preference turns out, in terms of non-hysterical, practical attitudes, Bill didn't have a very good sex education himself. Poor guy!


Ms. Theologian said...

She did such a good job. He's so hard to handle, but she was really great.

Joel said...

And people wonder why homeschooling is becoming more popular all the time.

Miss Kitty said...

I call his "show" The O'Really Factor.

Nothing wrong with educating kids about how things really work...I think my sister and benefited from our mom doing so. When I was in 2nd grade, she bought us a great little book called Where Do Babies Come From?, which explained in kid-appropriate but accurate language, just how sex and pregnancy happen. Looking back, I'm glad my mom gave us that book and answered our questions as well as she could. Like your son, I got plenty of non-threatening, honest sex education, and have never had an STD or had an unwanted pregnancy.

kim said...

I saw part of the clip from the show, and it seemed that O'Reilly has a fear of the Uterus. It seemed to be the word uterus he was really most upset about. It struck me as odd that it would be that word he would stick on. it's so....clinical. How could a really clinical word be bad for kids? Isn't it the "nasty" words that are supposed to be bad for kids? The disrespectful words?

Debra W. Haffner said...

Thanks, Ms. Kitty! I really appreciate the support!

Debra W. Haffner