If I were part of the McCain camp, I would probably try to avoid the potentially embarrassing topic of sex education at all costs. But if you've been too busy scoping out the Republicans' other recent attack ads, you may have missed a video clip that takes aim at Obama's education policy. It starts out, predictably enough, with out-of-context newspaper quotes juxtaposed with grinning images of the Democratic candidate, before taking a turn for the bizarre (not to mention untrue). "Obama's one accomplishment? Legislation to teach comprehensive sex education ... to kindergarteners," says the ad's concerned, avuncular narrator. And then, incredulously, "Learning about sex before learning to read?"
As you've likely already assumed, Obama has never supported teaching 5- and 6-year-olds all the ins and outs (pardon the expression) of sex. His bill, as Sam Stein of the Huffington Post explains, was designed to ensure that young children had the knowledge to protect themselves against sexual predators -- an issue I would hope conservatives and liberals agree on. The piece of legislation in question, Illinois State Bill 99, reads, "Course material and instruction shall teach pupils to not make unwanted physical and verbal sexual advances and how to say no to unwanted sexual advances and shall include information about verbal, physical, and visual sexual harassment, including without limitation nonconsensual sexual advances, nonconsensual physical sexual contact, and rape by an acquaintance." As I mentioned in a previous post, age-appropriate elementary school curricula on sex and relationships have already proved successful in the U.K. and Australia.
The Obama camp has already responded, calling McCain's claims "perverse." And Obama's allies at Planned Parenthood, who, along with the Illinois State Medical Society and Public Health Association, endorsed the bill, have hit back with an ad (posted below) debunking the McCain claims. "Doesn't McCain want our children to protect themselves from sex offenders?" the clip's narrator wonders. "Or, after 26 years in Washington, is he just another politician who will say anything to get himself elected?" Good questions, both.