Are Teens Growing Up Too Fast?


Last month, Brooklyn middle-school girls were allegedly required to participate in a role play of a lesbian date, with one girl asking the other for a kiss. Linden Avenue Middle School in Red Hook held the “anti-bullying" workshop, led by Bard College students. The thirteen- and fourteen-year-old students were separated by gender, then were taught about homosexuality and gender identity.

According to Fox News, the young girls were told that it was perfectly normal for fourteen-year-old girls to have sex and there was nothing their parents could do to intervene.

“I am furious,” parent Mandy Coon told Fox News, whose daughter was in the class.

“I am her parent. Where does anyone get the right to tell her that it’s okay for her to have sex?” Coon says parents were given no advance warning about the presentation and were not given the opportunity to opt-out.  

Coon says her daughter was upset and confused. “She told me, ‘Mom, we all get teased and picked on enough – now I’m going to be called a lesbian because I had to ask another girl if I could kiss her.“

Superintendent Paul Finch told the Poughkeepsie Journal that the workshop focused on “improving culture, relationships, communication and self-perceptions.”

Finch told the newspaper that New York State’s Dignity for All Students Act required the school to hold the workshops. The bill was passed by the New York State Assembly on May 17, 2010, the State Senate on June 22, 2010, signed by Governor David Paterson on September 8, and went into effect on July 1, 2012. Under the Act, schools are required to create a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment and bullying.

You can find a copy of the exact bill HERE.

Soon after the Fox News article was posted, the Red Hook School District released an ”Important Facts” document refuting claims made by the article. The District insisted that “no female student was forced to engage in any lesbian kissing,” “male students were not told to carry condoms,” and “sexual activity between students was not condoned in any way.”

Whatever the content of the school workshops, as a parent and a youth minister to New York City middle and high school students, I’m haunted by the messages being taught to our youth.

Growing up, I remember shows like Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, Arthur, and Recess teaching me to play, have friendships and use my imagination. These days, Disney and Nickelodeon shows are no longer about having a carefree childhood. Modern television shows targeting elementary and middle-school pre-teens (Miley Cyrus’s Hannah Montana, Jamie Lynn SpearsZoey 101) are instead portraying first dates and first kisses. All the while, primetime shows like Gossip Girls showcase high school students "hooking-up” left and right, with no consequences.

Putting aside any LGBTQ agendas, I believe middle-schoolers should not be condoned–even encouraged–by the public education and the media to practice sexuality at such a young age. For goodness sake, many students in that age group have not even fully undergone puberty yet. Is it too much to ask to keep their innocence childhood intact for just a little bit longer?

Are public school educators and “children’s” media pressuring our children to grow up prematurely?

Let me know in the comments below.