Schools or Programs that Tackle Obnoxious Sex Comments?
My fifth grade daughter is having the common but unwanted experience of putting up with male classmates talking about sex in juvenile terms when teachers aren’t listening, as well as using homemade slang for sex words that teachers apparently don’t pick up on even when they are listening. As far as I know, none of this is directed at her personally. She explains that girls in her class “have to pretend they don’t understand so they don’t get drawn into a nastier conversation.”
Now on the one hand I had the same experience growing up, and I certainly don’t want to categorize fifth grade boys as harrassers in the same way I would adult men. And on the other hand, I just sat through sexual harassment training for my job that explained that repeated unwanted comments about sex create a hostile environment and are considered a form of sexual harassment. So I’m not comfortable telling my daughter, “yeah, some kids (who are disproportionately boys) do this, and you just have to ignore it. They’ll grow out of it in a decade or two.” Asking preteen girls to put up with this kind of unpleasant discussion seems like a way of sending the message that adults don’t really care about their discomfort – as well as setting them up for putting up with sexual harassment later.
(And yes, of course it’s not all boys, and it’s not only boys doing this, and some girls talk about sex in crude terms too, and some girls don’t mind sex discussion at school, and some (many?) boys do mind it. But the gender dynamic is still part of the unpleasantness here.)
So my question is, do any of you know of schools, SEL programs, or Sex Ed programs that have successfully tackled this problem? My daughter’s school is kind of old-fashioned and hasn’t really picked up on SEL yet, but they are open to new ideas and suggestions, and I’d like to be able to send some their way.
Additionally, if you have suggestions for good ways to discuss this with my daughter, I’d love to hear them. I’m sure some of you have much better verbiage than I’ve managed.