17 July 2008

Hooray for Public School Sex-ed!

I overheard the following conversation in the changeroom at a local community centre today. The two girls came in while I was in a stall, and decided to share one to save space as they got into their swimsuits.


Girl 1: "Okay, but you're not allowed to look when I'm changing my bottoms."

Girl 2: "Why? Do you have hair or something?"

Girl 1: "Yeah. Wanna see?"

Girl 2: "Okay. Eeeewwwwww!" [pause] "How old are you?"

Girl 1: "Eight."

Girl 2: "That's abnormal. You're not supposed to have it yet."

Girl 1: "Yes I am. Girls get it between 8 and 14. That's why they start teaching us this stuff in Grade 5*."

Girl 2: Oh. Okay.

[They finish changing and run out to the waterpark].


I love that we have an education system that teaches girls (and boys too, but this post is about the girls) that the changes their body undergoes are completely normal, and nothing to be ashamed of. I particularly like Girl #1's matter-of-fact response to her friend's confusion, and #2's acceptance of the facts once they got explained to her. Hearing that conversation kind of made my afternoon.

* In BC, children going through the public school system (I'm not sure what it is for private institutions) get sex-ed twice: the first time is in Grade 5 (9-10 years old), and focuses on the biological end of things, covering both puberty and the nuts-and-bolts of sexual reproduction; the second time is in Grade 11 (15-16 years old) and covers STIs, all manners of birth control--including putting condoms on a class set of wooden penises--and some of the emotional complexity of sexual relationships.

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