I have a question for the parents who are outraged at the “filthy” language in sex education resources for Highland primary schools: where would they prefer their kids to learn this stuff?
How about letting the urchins loose on the internet to find out for themselves, armed with a couple of playground phrases and Google? I mean, what could possibly go wrong with that?
Or perhaps these horrified mums and dads are yearning for the good old days when everything you needed to know about the birds and bees could be taught behind the bike sheds – along with a couple of Embassy Regal for good measure?
I’m of a generation that remembers sex education consisting of a half-hour chat from a hugely embarrassed science teacher, explaining the process as if they were describing a physics experiment with a bit of chemistry thrown in. Cue much tittering from a class of early teen boys who already knew this stuff – the bike shed was popular in my neck of the woods.
And there’s the thing: children are curious. It’s what they are built to be.
It’s not as if they don’t notice their own bits and bobs and the differences between boys and girls and wonder what that’s all about. That doesn’t suddenly start when they go into second year at high school, or whatever arbitrary age horrified parents think is appropriate.
And in the world in which we live, like it or not, children are constantly bombarded with sexual references and images that will only serve to fuel those questions and spark feelings of their own.
Where better to learn than in the safe environment of the classroom?
So, do we just let them get on with that and muddle through as best they can, or do we answer the questions and arm them with the facts they will inevitably need? That includes information about all aspects of sexuality and its myriad iterations.
Surely knowledge is better than ignorance in such an essential part of our lives?
And where better to learn than in the safe environment of the classroom, with resources that have been carefully researched and tailored to young minds? With a curriculum that is in no way designed to promote sexual activity, but to give children the facts they need at the relevant stages of their lives on their way through their school years.
Personally, I think the clue to the stooshie breaking out in the Highlands can be found in that word: “filthy”. It sums up the mindset of the people using it, as far as I’m concerned.
They are promoting the idea that human sexuality is somehow sordid, sinful and to be shunned by decent people. It’s a source of guilt and shame.
Do we really want to be perpetuating that repressed, narrow-minded view? Or, do we want the next generation to learn the facts about what is a perfectly natural – and wonderful – part of all our lives?
Scott Begbie is a long-time journalist and editor for The Press & Journal and Evening Express.