I don’t remember ever sitting down with my parents to discuss the facts of life back in the 70’s or 80’s. Growing up on a farm, the biology of reproduction was everywhere from barn cats in heat, to late-night checks on the calving pens. Because of this, I had a working knowledge of the birds and the bees by the time I started grade school.

Today’s society is changing, and many parents seem so worried about even broaching the topic of sex education. They feel as if it’s almost impossible to tackle the advanced sexual awareness of today’s teens, never mind all the new terminology and the evolving categories of the LGBTQ community.  

I’ve always believed that a teenager armed with the correct information would be more prepared to handle the changes in their bodies and the raging hormones associated with puberty. Ignorance is not bliss and hiding the relationships of select members of our society benefits no one.

Sex education has been a hot topic in public and private schools for years. The addition of the LGBTQ community’s concerns to the conversation might add a new dimension, but the basics of human sexuality still apply.

Babies are produced when a female and a male join together in sexual intercourse, and the manner in which either participant dresses, or the sex they identify with, is of little or no consequence to the basic biology of this act.

I worry that in our present state of political correctness, we’re starting to sidestep our children’s needs in an effort to not offend anyone. We still need to make sure that our sons and daughters understand the basics of human sexuality, no matter how difficult that conversation might be.

Many schools now have transgender or neutral washrooms for children who don’t identify with their birth sex. Your child may be one of these children, or you may have a relative or a friend who dresses and presents themselves as if they were the opposite sex. This might be a wrinkle, but it doesn’t change the fabric.

Homosexuality is not something to be ‘caught’ like a common cold. Being transgender is not a condition to be feared or whispered about. It’s a fact of life for some in our community, and not talking about it does not make it disappear. We need to present the basics on human sexuality, and still have the conversations with those we love so they can leave the nest informed, not confused or disgusted.

IMPORTANT: Whether you support members of the LGBTQ community, are indifferent to their lives, or believe they are doomed to hell is not the issue.

In Canada, same-sex marriage is legally sanctioned by our government and becoming slowly recognized by most mainstream religions. The bottom line, our children will encounter these individuals during their education, teenage years, and adulthood, if not joining the community themselves. They need to understand that loving families come in many different forms throughout society.  

Our children need to know that if they choose to have intercourse, with or without contraceptives, that coupling may result in a pregnancy or an infection. It does not matter which sex they, or their partners, identify with.

We need to talk about STI’s (sexually transmitted infections) and the long term effects they can have on their adult health. We need to familiarize ourselves with the latest forms of contraceptives that are available to our kids, and we need to speak intelligently about them. We must broach the emotions involved with falling in and out of love, the act of loosing ones’ virginity, inappropriate touching/abuse, and even date rape.

Granted, the conversation may seem more complicated than when we were in our teens, but not having it because we’re afraid of using the wrong terminology is just another step backwards.

I know farmers who will research GMO seeds online until their eyes water. Well, take one hour and research human sexuality for your family. Familiarize yourself with the preferred terms before sitting down with your kids.

Phone/email the school and find out what human sexuality is covered in their curriculum. Don’t ever assume that your kids are receiving all the information they need in the classroom, as many school districts barely touch on the subject anymore.

Sexuality, whether you be heterosexual, gay, transgender, or something else is too important to be ignored. We love our children too much to send them out in a world where they don’t understand the people around them, or even their own personal desires. Life is confusing enough, why let our teens leave the house guessing and formulating opinions from scraps of information shared from their friends on Facebook or Twitter?  

If you think you’re ready to talk to your children, try these 10 questions:

  1. Will any prescription medications render birth control pills ineffective?
  2. What is the difference between being gay, transgender, or a cross-dresser?
  3. Can a young girl get pregnant before her first period?
  4. Can a male impregnate a female during vaginal intercourse without ejaculating?
  5. Is there any form of birth control that is 100% effective?
  6. Are all STI’s or STD’s curable if you see a doctor and get a prescription?
  7. How old does a child have to be to get prescription contraceptives without a parent’s permission?
  8. How old does someone have to be to have a medical abortion without parental consent?
  9. Is there really something as effective as the ‘morning-after pill’ if you have unprotected sex?
  10. What age is it best to start talking to your children about human reproduction and sexuality?

ANSWERS (Alberta, Canada)

  1. YES, some prescriptions can lessen the birth control pill’s effectiveness. For example: The Penicillin (Rifampin) Anti-fungal meds (Griseofulvin for athlete’s foot) Anti-seizure meds (Topomax) Sleep problems (Provigil) Herbal remedies (St. John’s wort and garlic pills).
  2. Gay individuals desire same-sex relationships. Transgender individuals feel they were born the wrong gender (can also be gay). Cross-dressers enjoy dressing as the opposite sex (usually straight males).
  3.  YES, you can get pregnant as soon as you start to ovulate. Many girls ovulate before their first period.
  4.  YES, young boys/men will drip small amounts of pre-ejaculate from their penis during the initial stages of arousal, and if having unprotected sex, this can be enough to impregnate without even ejaculating during a climax.
  5. NOTHING IS 100%. Implanted IUD’s are 99%, Birth control pills 91%, Condoms 82% (mostly due to misuse and improper storage).
  6. NO, many STI’s and STD’s even with prescription meds have long term consequences that may include infertility, repeated flare-ups, or even the loss of life without medical treatment. Some are highly contagious without any visible symptoms in your partner.
  7.  NO, there is no minimum age for receiving prescription birth control in Alberta, Canada. If your child presents a rational request to their physician, they do not need your permission.
  8.  As of 1988, as long as you are 16 years of age in Alberta, Canada you do not need your parent’s consent to get a medical abortion paid for by Alberta Health Care at a licensed hospital. Note: If you are under 16 and the doctor believes you understand the consequences, he also has the option of performing the abortion without parental consent.
  9.  YES, morning-after-pills, or Plan B, can be purchased at most pharmacies in Canada for under $50 without a prescription.
  10.   It is now suggested that we begin talking about puberty with our children (especially girls) by the age of 9, as many young girls are now beginning their periods as early as 8 years of age (grade four).

These answers can be horrifying and even aggravating for many parents. I truly suggest opening a dialogue with your kids. It’s never too late. Talking together will give you a chance to pass on your family/religious beliefs and broach the topic of abstinence vs. sexual activity.  

You can always increase your knowledge base, and as a proud member of THE FIFTY CANDLES CLUB, I promise your kids will always benefit from conversations with someone who loves them and is truly interested in their health and happiness.

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