Former Saturday Night Live comedian turned conservative activist Victoria Jackson took on the Common Core State Standards Initiative last week by calling out the Williamson County, Tennessee school district's alleged use in 4th-grade classrooms of the children's book "It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health" by Robie H. Harris with illustrations by Michael Emberley.
Turns out, Williamson County schools weren't using this book in the first place. But maybe they should have been - it seems like a pretty useful, age-appropriate book that could be put to use as part of a comprehensive sex ed program. Fourth grade might be a bit early for some students, but certainly by middle school. I have only seen the pages that seem to outrage Jackson's supporters the most, which they've posted online. For example:
That's just a bunch of naked bodies. Kids are exposed to naked or mostly naked bodies constantly by various media, and most of the time those bodies are imbued with overt or implied sexuality. These bodies are just... standing there. Being naked. And, might I add, they're refreshingly diverse.
Jackson, who is running for a seat on the Williamson County Commission, updated her original blog post on Saturday, saying:
"... It is highly likely that this sexually explicit book, It’s Perfectly Normal or one just like it, will be at your child’s school in the near future. I’m sure the public school system will not be using the Bible’s view of sex ed and it’s (sic) message to "Flee Fornication" and save sex for after marriage, and to someone of the opposite sex."
Even if you dismiss Jackson as a right-wing nut, it's impossible to deny that she has an audience. Parents were horrified and began calling school administrators to demand an explanation. And rather than just shrugging and saying, "We don't happen to be using that book, but so what if we did?" the Director of Schools Mike Looney felt compelled to issue a statement vehemently denying it.
Why? Why should one religion's views deprive children of the comprehensive sex ed they deserve and, frankly, need? Parents can teach their children whatever they want in the privacy of their homes, but unwanted pregnancies, sexual assaults, and slut shaming are real things that have a massive effect on all of us. The sexual views of one religion should not be allowed to terrify us all into pretending there's not a problem here.