A San Diego, California, middle school hides behind the pretense of a "dating lesson," but forcing family life and health class students to declare how far each student was willing to go on a date left students embarrassed and parents furious. Discover why eighth graders were forced to divulge sexual boundaries in front of peers during a sex-ed lesson.
Photo credit: Christopher Futcher/ iStock/360/ Getty Images

Overstepping boundaries

Unless you read the class curriculum, the sex-ed unit at Woodland Park Middle School in the San Marcos suburb of San Diego, California, may have seemed like any other. But, when eighth graders were forced to indicate in front of classmates how far each was willing to go sexually when dating by standing under signs, some teens were embarrassed and peer pressured.

As part of the dating lesson, signs read 'smiled at,' 'hugged,' 'kissed,' 'above the waist,' 'below the waist' and 'all the way.' According to an eighth grade student, each student was instructed to stand under the sign that best represented their sexual boundaries, but where was the sign that read, 'none of your business?'

Like the parents who contacted ABC 10 News, I would come unhinged if my children were publicly humiliated in this fashion, despite the school officials' response that the goal of the activity was to open a discussion between students and parents about what is appropriate for dating at the middle school age. So why not stick to a more appropriate hypothetical discussion or an anonymous survey?

The ultimate peer pressure

The parents also reported that their daughter and her classmates were mortified, thinking that the teacher wanted to know how far they've gone sexually. But, terrifyingly, that very question has been posed to students at another school.

"When our daughter was in the eighth grade, the student-run anti-bullying club conducted 'mandatory' classroom surveys," shares Lucy (names have been changed). "The students were lined up and asked to step forward if they could answer 'yes' to this-or-that question:

  • 'Have you ever had sex?'
  • 'Do you use birth control?'
  • 'Are you gay?'

"And so on...

"Our daughter said that it was a lose-lose situation. If you stepped forward for the sex question, you were a ho. If you didn't, you were a pathetic prude. The irony was that the club was created to prevent bullying."

"Fortunately, the very next day I happened to run into the superintendent. I explained that I was very concerned about this public Q&A and felt that it would likely encourage, not prevent, bullying. The superintendent nearly fell over from shock — she had no idea. The club was immediately disbanded."

There is a varying degree of 'maturity' amongst this age group in the sense that while some may actually be sexually active, others are not even having crushes yet. So to expose them in this manner is just wrong.

Keep private issues private

When it comes to opening the discussion between teens and parents about sexual consent and the right to be the boss of your own body, schools should stick to the facts and keep their nose out of our children's private lives. "I think it's horrible, and having a 15-year-old daughter I cannot even imagine how she would feel to have to discuss highly personal issues with classmates," shares Sherri Kuhn. "What I have noticed as the parent of teens is that there is a varying degree of 'maturity' amongst this age group — a pretty wide range, actually — in the sense that while some may actually be sexually active, others are not even having crushes yet. So to expose them in this manner is just wrong."

Based on the responses the San Marcos school has given in regards to eighth graders being forced to divulge sexual boundaries, it wouldn't be surprising if middle school students in this school's sex-ed class continue to be subjected to this form of public humiliation for years to come. Honestly, if my children's school wants to send home literature to initiate communication between my youngsters and me, I'd applaud that. But, as far as digging into my children's personal preferences and sexual history, I stand strongly in the 'none of your beeswax' school of thought.

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Topics: teen dating