The National Film Board’s sex ed TV series for children, “Growing Up,” premiered on B.C.’s Knowledge Network on February 15. With it another state-supported agency got into the business of violating the right of parents to educate their children for chastity.
In “Growing Up,” hosts Barbara Duncan and Blu Mankuma visit a Vancouver elementary school and encourage 9 to 12 year-old boys and girls to engage in explicit discussions of sexuality and puberty.
These discussions plus cartoon depictions of sex make up the three-part film. In the first part, the cartoon characters Fred and Anna demonstrate what the sex act is all about. Viewers are never told whether Fred and Anna are married, but in the perspective of the film that doesn’t matter; after all, they have a “warm and loving relationship,” and that’s all that matters.
“Growing Up” therefore leads children to inevitably conclude that their immature and stereotyped understanding of relationships is the correct one: sexual intercourse is the ultimate test of how much a boy and girl care for each other.
When Mrs. Duncan and Mr. Mankuma deal with sexual and moral problems of the day, they opt for the prevailing orthodoxy. What is this? On birth control: use contraception every time you have sex. On AIDS: use condoms. (Abstinence receives a perfunctory nod, but the covert message of the film is that chastity is impossible). On homosexuality: quite all right. (Asked if it is normal, Mrs. Duncan says that two men or two women can have a “loving relationship.”)
The creators of “Growing Up” tout the series as a resource for parents who may be reluctant to talk about sex with their children. But since some parents may actually want their children to choose the way of responsible love and avoid vice – called “cultural taboos” in the film – “Growing Up” will be no help at all.
Groups concerned about another assault on the family can order the video version of the series (for $29.95) from NFB offices across Canada.