When discussing sexuality and sexual education, one has to bear in mind that these subjects tend to be caught between two extremes: a taboo or a trend. However, a reconstruction in the way of perceiving, approaching, and understanding these matters is occurring.
By A. F. Habli
…“You should’ve seen the horror on my face coming back home in 10th grade as I had to give my parents the fresh booklet of our newest integrated subject: Sexual Health Ed.” said Mrs. Melissa Maroun- a first-time mom and a math teacher at a school near Sidon, when asked about her experience regarding the social dilemma of wanting to raise a kid aware of his or her sexual personae, in a Middle Eastern environment.
Then, she continued to say: “We received two booklets, one for us as students, and the other was for the parents. They were basically helpful books centered on the main issues teenagers and their parents stumble upon during those critical years. As students, our booklet was concise, whereas our parents’ was elaborative. It focused on creating the nurturing environment when dealing with the kid’s every step in their growth journey. Well, me and my friends were okay with all of the content, up until we reached the in-depth sexual health education part. That is when we started looking at each other, with questioning glimpses here and there, baffled of how our parents will handle this part. Yes! Imagine us, the kids, worried about our parents. We were typical teenagers having gathered common knowledge and understanding of the sexual matters from the internet, what we shared as friends in our daily conversations, and what we saw on social media. Most of us never had any serious conversations with our parents, so we had much to expect and anticipate”.
Much of what Mrs. Khoury shared is very common in our societies. Youngsters gather a decent amount of information on sexual topics from their peers, pornography, and social platforms, but rarely from an educated and responsible adult. Sometimes, teens find refuge in a close family member, family friend, or even old neighbor. Despite the fact that the latter might go relatively well, this approach could have a myriad of direct and indirect negative effects on the teens’ mental and psychological growth. This is why an educated and responsible intervention has to happen at an early age.
There is an eminent role that academics and parents need to be attending to when it comes to raising the kid’s awareness regarding their sexual identity. Both parents need to be aware of the information they are delivering to their children as well as the mannerism in the process. This has to begin by building the trust-support bond between the kid and the parent. From that point on, the growth of that bond will lead to being authentic and open in the progressive sexual knowledge that the parent is giving out to their kid. Additionally, a key component in this process is the educational system. In the middle East today, schools are moving slowly towards the integration and development of a health education program in their curriculum. The school has a significant role when it comes to creating a supportive and healthy environment whereby the kid finds comfort in consuming and digesting the knowledge presented- especially in the field of sexual education. A teenager will immediately and naturally cringe if they heard their teacher mention anything sexual in a biology class, let alone a whole space just for that. This is why it is the teacher’s role is to lay the foundation of trust, comfort, and support when trying to venture on this crucial journey with their students.
Melissa and her parents are a mere reflection of a larger Lebanese community. As a storm of awareness is brewing, and as society is moving towards a more sexually comprehensive one, it is important to acknowledge the different active members of this movement and the essential role each plays. It is important to found a three-dimensional love-trust bond between the parents, educators, and the teenager, in order to reach a safe and nurturing environment. This cannot happen overnight, like every radical movement that happens around the world, this too needs time to take shape and flourish.
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