As some of you know, I am going to school to be a biology teacher. This, of course, entails classes about teaching. This semester I am taking an “Intro to Education” class. We had a discussion in my class on Thursday about what we expect kids to learn in school. Within this discussion was a lot of homeschool bashing (which is an entirely different post) which was very bothersome to me, but even more so was this (paraphrased) comment a girl made.
My major is physical education and my minor is health. It really bothers me that I’m going to have to teach kids about sex. I mean, isn’t that something that their parents should be teaching them?
She poses an interesting question that is definitely one with strong feelings on either side, but that’s not what I’m talking about today. I’m talking about the fact that it bothers her that she’ll have to teach kids about sex.
Really? I understand that it will be a difficult subject to teach. I understand that a lot of health teachers have to tip-toe around parents possibly getting upset versus actually giving the kids adequate information. I know that it’s awkward to talk to kids about sex. But really? You’re going to school to be a health teacher.
As you can see, this comment really pushed some buttons with me right off the bat, but it took a few hours for it to really hit me what this means for breastfeeding—this woman will be teaching your children about breastfeeding and she’s not even comfortable discussing sex objectively. Learning about sexual reproduction seems to me like the perfect time to learn about breastfeeding because I see breastfeeding as an extension of pregnancy. This could be a wonderful opportunity to show young people that breastfeeding is biologically normal and the best thing for a baby. Of course, this won’t happen.
If breastfeeding is actually covered beyond a couple of sentences about the function of breasts, it will probably still be a small amount of information. There will be no pictures shown because that could upset the parents. The benefits of breastfeeding probably won’t even be mentioned. This girl who has probably never even seen a breastfeeding woman will be teaching these things and will likely have obvious bias.
Biases are taught. This girl probably didn’t think that sex was gross when she was young. She probably wouldn’t have given a breastfeeding mom a second glace. These children could have that same bias prevented if they were taught about breastfeeding correctly. They could grow up without the notion that breastfeeding is gross (or that sex is gross for that matter).
That’s if breastfeeding is taught at all. Earlier this year I wrote a Letter to the Editor about breastfeeding being taught in schools. There were parents in the county next to mine saying that breastfeeding (among some other things) should not be taught in health classes. It’s hard to even wrap my mind around that. What is so offensive about feeding your child? If you’re not teaching that breasts are for breastfeeding, what are you teaching that they’re for? Looking pretty? Your pancreas produces insulin, your small intestine is for digesting, and your breasts… hrm… they’re just there.
Really, what is our country coming to when we can’t talk about such biologically normal acts? Why is sex gross and awkward? Why would a health teacher get in trouble for showing photos of women breastfeeding? How did we possibly get into a mindset where these things are considered bad?
I don’t know about you guys, but contemplating about these things for long enough makes me want to slam my head against the wall. I just have to keep reminding myself that I’m doing the best I can to change these notions. I breastfeed in front of young people to show them it’s normal, I write this blog to help moms, and I word-vomit information out to everyone I find out is pregnant. And if I ever get the chance, I will talk about breastfeeding to my biology classes. Hopefully, that will make a difference.