Health

Parents Freak Out Because Chicago School’s Sex Ed Talks About Female Condoms

CREDIT: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Parents at an elite magnet school in Chicago are up in arms over a sex education program for fifth graders that talks frankly about female condoms and lube.

Under Chicago Public Schools’ new sex education curriculum, basic sex ed starts in kindergarten. By fifth grade, kids are supposed to learn about contraception, which includes female condoms.

But as DNAinfo reports, parents were upset by a presentation at Andrew Jackson Language Academy that included slides encouraging students to use lube and giving them clear instructions on how to use female condoms. One slide entitled “Feel-Good Reasons To Use FCs” touted female condoms as a way to prolong sex and help both partners “feel the heat.” It also explained that female condoms could be used for safe anal sex as well.

CPS officials quickly denounced the slides, saying they were included by mistake and were only intended for teachers’ eyes. But DNAinfo found the same slides on a different elementary school’s website, apparently provided by the Chicago Female Condom Campaign.

Parents expressed worry that the frank discussion of contraception methods and pleasure would ruin fifth graders’ innocence. “Sexual awareness, okay. But how to use a condom and that it was going to be shown how, I just thought that was a little bit extreme,” one parent told NBC Chicago.

Still, as DNAinfo notes, more than half of CPS students say they’ve had sex — and 12 percent report having sex before the age of 13. Cook County also leads the country in cases of gonorrhea and syphilis, and more than a third of students say they didn’t use condoms. CPS also had nearly a thousand reports of sexual harassment or misconduct in one school year.

Many schools completely lack any sex ed program, while others are riddled with misinformation, body shaming, and euphemisms. This approach hasn’t been very effective in keeping kids from having sex. Now more schools are starting to emphasize consent and healthy relationships as part of their sex ed curricula. Some researchers even say that incorporating discussion of sexual pleasure helps students better understand abuse.

Recent conversations about affirmative consent and campus sexual assault have revealed just how uncomfortable we are talking about sexual pleasure at any age. Most college students feel uncomfortable expressing what they want during sexual encounters. This inability to talk about sexual preferences starts at an early age, particularly when pleasure is a taboo subject. Another school, in California, also recently pulled a sex-ed textbook for ninth graders that was denounced as “pornography” for talking about masturbation and orgasms.

While it does seem like the CPS female condom presentation was intended for an older audience — one slide compares the first use to the first time you drive a car — researchers are finding that comprehensive sex education that encouraging communication with partners and families at an early age actually helps kids delay sex longer.