Is the Science Museum's Sex Exhibit Too Racy?
A sexy exhibit in Ottawa has the politicians hot and bothered, but is any of the information new to the teenagers that it is targeted at?
Sadly, it probably is.
Sex: A Tell-All Exhibition toured Montreal and Regina without complaint. But as soon as it landed in the nation's capital it became news. The exhibit is explicit, unapologetically so (from what I have seen from news reports) and it presents reliable information on sexuality.
There are sections on orgasms, condoms and racy words. There are graphics, buttons, things to touch and most importantly a lot to TALK about. And that is a good thing.
If you think abstinence is the best policy, or that people should wait until marriage, or at least until they are 18; or if you just want to make sure that your kids have healthy sexual relationships at whatever age they choose -- the messages they are getting from TV, movies, music and the computer are probably not in line with your values.
But despite the amount of sex talk around kids, there isn't enough in the most important place of all -- the home. Parents aren't educating their kids. In fact, most kids learn about sex from porn and their friends. When I wrote this article for Canadian Family magazine, I talked to teens who wanted to talk to their parents about sex, but their parents wouldn't or couldn't talk to them.
It's not like discussing sex and healthy relationships is easy. I have a son going through puberty (eek!), so I know that it's not. But given the choice between porn and me for education, I am going to choose my values of equality and respect every time.
Which is what this museum exhibit is also doing. Yes, the exhibit seems explicit and I would probably find it mortifying to watch my son learning about oral sex, but if that meant that he treated his body and his partners with respect, I think that is a worthy trade-off.
Unfortunately, our government seems to disagree. They would prefer to keep their head in the ground and pretend teenagers don't already know what sex is. The Minister of Heritage even asked what this exhibit has to do with science and says it is an insult to taxpayers. Last time I looked, biology was a part of science, as is medicine, reproduction and the human body. But hey, I'm no expert. Oh wait, neither is he.
According to the museum, the exhibit was created for teens by a group of scientists and sexual health educators and follows curriculum guidelines for sexual education. The minimum age of unaccompanied teens was raised to sixteen in Ottawa only (in Montreal and Regina it was 12).
Talking to your kids about sex should start at a young age. If you need resources try Meg Hickling: The New Speaking of Sex and What Makes a Baby? (coming out in June); for teen-related issues try Teen Health Source and the Kids Help Phone site.
Watch this report and then tell me: does the exhibit go too far? Would you want your kids going?
So, what do you think?
Want more chaos? Last year, I commemorated my anniversary with a post on the top fights in marriage.