Advocates for Youth pushes for sex ed to start in kindergarten, NPR provides platform

News & Politics

Advocates for Youth, a non-profit organization, argued that sex ed should start in kindergarten. Nora Gelperin, the organization’s director of sex education and training, was quoted in an NPR article that featured opinions on youth sexual education curriculum from educators and researchers.

The non-profit’s mission is to “champion youth rights to bodily autonomy and build power to transform policies, programs, and systems to secure sexual health and equity for all youth.”

Advocates for Youth has received backlash in the past for creating controversial sexual education lessons for kindergarten through 12th grade students.

The NPR article stated that comprehensive sex education is more than lessons about puberty and reproduction. Instead, it is defined as “a science-based, culturally and age-appropriate set of lessons that start in early grades and go through the end of high school.” Comprehensive sex ed covers topics such as “sexuality, human development, sexual orientation and gender, bodily autonomy and consent, as well as relationship skills and media literacy.”

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Nora Gelperin argued that sex education “absolutely is not” controversial and is “always in the best interest of young people.”

Advocates for Youth believes elementary schools should teach “age-appropriate sex ed” to kindergarteners, including introducing the topic of consent.

“When we’re talking about consent with kindergartners, that means getting permission before you touch someone else; asking if it’s OK if you borrow somebody’s toy or pencil or game, so that kids start to learn about personal boundaries and consent in really age- and developmentally appropriate ways,” said Gelperin.

The Advocates for Youth director explained that she uses hula hoops to teach young children about bodily autonomy. The NPR article explained that Gelperin provides each student with one and instructs the children to ask for permission to go inside another student’s hula hoop.

Gelperin stated, “If someone is touching you inside your boundary in a way that makes you uncomfortable, it’s OK to say no and talk to a trusted adult.”

The Advocates for Youth director recommended that sex education lessons on puberty begin in the fourth grade.

Gelperin suggested that middle school students learn about reproduction, biological terms, feelings of attraction, and sexually transmitted diseases.

“That for me is a real hallmark of middle school sex education, is kind of really starting to understand how those parts and systems work together for reproduction,” Gelperin said.

She also recommended teaching middle school students about “gender expression and sexual orientation, as well as gender stereotypes.” The article outlined an Advocates for Youth lesson where students are instructed to find examples of gender stereotypes in advertisements.

The non-profit created a lesson titled “Creating Condom Confidence” for high school youths, where students are instructed to practice using a condom by placing it on a banana.

“We can’t expect young people to know how to use condoms correctly unless we help them learn how to do that,” Gelperin stated.

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