It all started because the Impossible Son said, "One of my friends is pansexual."
I blinked, because this was a definite non-sequiter not related to the conversation we were having, but I'm well used to this sort of thing because... that's just the way my kids' brains work. And I admit it, I'm kind of that way, too. So, I said, "Really? What makes you say that?"
"Well..." he hedged.
"Do you know what it means?" I asked while keeping my eyes on the road, because I had just picked him up from school and wanted to not, you know, run off the road into a ditch.
"Yeah," he said, "it means you'll basically have sex with anything that stands still long enough."
Wow, I thought, and knew I had to nip that one in the bud. "Nope, not even close," I said firmly.
"But... that's what my friends said it meant," he protested.
"Yeah, well, they don't know what it means, either," I said dryly. "Being pansexual means you're attracted to a person, not their gender. Gender doesn't matter to you, it's the person themselves that attracts you."
"Oh," he said thoughtfully, then he frowned at me. "Then... why didn't my friends know that?"
I shrugged. "Because a lot of folks don't even bother to learn what those things mean."
"I thought that was being heterosexual..."
"No," I said, wondering how the hell he'd gotten so mixed up about this, "being heterosexual means being attracted to someone of the opposite sex. And," I said before he could ask, "being homosexual means being attracted to someone of the same sex as you. And being bisexual means being attracted to either sex."
We kept chatting until we got home, and I think I cleared it up for him, but wow...
I shouldn't be too surprised, though, that he's mixed up. Last year, the 6th grade assistant principal told my son he needed to keep some friction burns he had on his hands covered with bandaging, not because it was hygienic, or would keep them clean, but... because he could pick up AIDS from the surfaces of the desks in the classrooms and the tables in the cafeteria.
*watches the collective jaw drop*
Yeah, that was pretty much my reaction, too.
So, going by that shining example, along with the fact that what passes for sex education in the schools in our small town is of the abstinence variety, it's no big surprise that my son's friends have no clue whatsoever what any of those terms mean.
There is a disturbingly high rate of teen pregnancy in our little town. My son is in 7th grade. There's already a girl in his class that is expecting. A girl at the Impertinent Daughter's high school went into labor on the first day of school.
I have news for all those parents who keep saying that they don't want comprehensive sex education taught in the schools because it might give their kids ideas and make them want to have sex. Your kids have gone way past having ideas and they're already doing it. Not knowing anything about it hasn't stopped them. They're doing it, and they're getting pregnant, and getting STDs because you're too stupid to give them the tools they need to prevent it. You're preventing them from knowing enough about it to make an informed decision, and you know what? It's been proven that kids who take comprehensive sex education classes tend to delay having sex longer than kids who don't.
Anyhow, moving on, later in the evening, I was discussing this with the Husbandly One and the Impertinent Daughter, and she said, "You know, Mom, I'm not surprised at all, because my friends used to pop out with stuff like that all the time. I'd come ask you about it and you would explain it to me and then I'd go back to school and explain it to my friends. I mean, I knew they were wrong, but sometimes, I didn't know why, or I didn't know how to explain it. So I'd go to you, you'd explain it, and then I'd go and explain it to them!"
That sort of boggled me and I laughed and said, "Wow, kiddo, you make it sound like I'm responsible for providing all your friends with sex education."
The Impertinent Daughter snorted as she headed to her room and said, "Duh, Mom, haven't you noticed? None of my friends are pregnant!!"
Holy cow, she's right. None of her little circle of female friends are pregnant, and none of the girlfriends of her male friends are pregnant.
That... is pretty stunning. And you know, all I have done is say things like, "It's easier to prevent a baby than to raise one," and "don't depend on the girl to provide contraception unless you're prepared to be a father," and, "if he doesn't love you enough to wear a condom, then he doesn't love you and he's not worth your time," and "No is a complete sentence all on its own. No. Period. End of story,"and "You have a perfect right to refuse to engage in sex if you're not ready, but it doesn't hurt to develop a good left hook, too."
It's not that hard. You start when they're old enough to start asking questions. You tailor it to their age, but you answer their questions. You don't tell them the stork brings babies or that you go shopping at the hospital. You tell them it takes two people to make a baby, and the process that goes into it. You tell them about the changes it makes to a woman's body, and what it takes to grow one, and how it comes out. And... you tell them what it takes to raise a baby. Money, time, and patience. A stable job, a good home, a willingness to love, nurture, teach, lose many, many, many nights of sleep, to sometimes go hungry so your child can eat, to forgo new shoes so your kid can have new shoes, or a band instrument, or piano lessons, or whatever they need.
You talk to them about relationships and what it takes to build them. What it takes to build a good solid friendship with their buddies, then apply that to a relationship with a girl/boyfriend, a spouse, a lover... you talk about what it takes to learn to live with a completely different person than they're used to living with, sharing books, records, a car, a house, money, or a dog, and you talk about how it all changes when you bring a child into it.
You talk to them about responsibility and respect, for themselves, for others, and you talk to them about how to treat other people. How to recognize when someone genuinely cares and when they just want to get into someone's pants. You teach them how to put a condom on themselves, or on someone else. You teach them about other forms of birth control and how to talk about it with another person. You teach them about drinking responsibly, about knowing the people they're with and making sure they have a designated sober person in their group. That they have a signal to let their friends know when they're leaving a party/bar/social scene willingly and when they're in trouble. That they should have someone they check in with regularly when they go on dates, so that if they miss a check-in, their friend will know something is wrong and will react appropriately.
Doesn't everyone do this? If not, they should.