ERIC Number: ED434893
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1999-Apr
Why Discuss Sexuality in Elementary School?
It is important to discuss sexuality with elementary students. Elementary teachers can help children learn to share public space with people who are similar and different from themselves. This should include discussions of homosexual people. One reason to discuss sexuality in elementary schools is that it is already present in students' lives (via public spaces, media, and peer groups). Sexuality is present and visible in public images experienced by virtually all Western children, and value judgments are implicit in these images. Curriculum resource materials and teaching strategies employ these value-loaded images long before they admit to talking about sex. Gender role socialization, including the accompanying devaluation of homosexual identities, is an inevitable element of how children are guided to behave by the hidden curriculum of peer interaction and school activities. Often teachers who make independent choices to discuss this controversial issue are presumed homosexual and thereby at risk of job loss. There is no evidence that explicit sex education leads to increased sexual behavior, but teachers do not get much latitude to teach about sexuality. Questions of sex, gender, and homosexual identity can fit into elementary curriculum in many places. Many recent curricula emphasize respect and tolerance for diversity. The mini-society of elementary classrooms becomes more inclusive when all members respectfully interact with diverse individuals and unfamiliar ideas. (Contains 44 references.) (SM)
Publication Type: Reports - General; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Montreal, Quebec, Canada, April 19-23, 1999).