A few weeks ago, 16 of us on a high school sex education curriculum study committee made our recommendation to the Tempe Union High School District here in Tempe, Ariz.  After six months of work, our assignment came to an end.  The five-member governing board had a spirited debate about our suggesting the Family Life and Sexual Health, or FLASH, as the best of five programs we examined to use to teach high school students about sex.  After some fierce discussion, the board voted 3-2 to use FLASH as the framework to craft its own distinct program.

As I noted in a blog post a month ago, I felt compelled to use the opportunity of studying sex ed curricula to pitch for the rights of baby boys and not let circumcision be taught as an acceptable step of parenting a boy.

I had raised the same  issues when our committee itself met for the final time April 14 and voted 13-0 for FLASH.  I chose to join 30 community speakers at the school board meeting on May 7 to reinforce that.   The sound system in the district’s temporary meeting site, the new Compadre High School gym, was atrocious. None of the speakers could be heard well.

Even with the merits of FLASH, the curriculum is pathetic when it comes  to “discussing” circumcision.   In the “Reproductive Section,” it has a box that says “Foreskin” with a mere three bullet points: “1) Protects the penis; 2) Provides sensation; and 3) Males who’ve been circumcised don’t have one.”

When my name was called to speak, this is what I shared in my allotted 3 minutes:

Good evening, my name is Lawn Griffiths, a 30-year Tempe resident and father of two graduates from McClintock High School.

It was an honor to serve on the task force. I certainly hope our efforts translate into enlightened, informative comprehensive sex education for many years to come in this district. Our young people deserve a solid, well-grounded curriculum, and I believe we found it with the Family Life curriculum.

I think back exactly 50 years ago to my small school district in Iowa when the best high school teacher I ever had was accused by the school board of teaching us too much regarding sex education in our sociology class. His much needed information was so refreshing and honest, but Mr. King didn’t get his contract renewed the next year because of that. It was tragic. I wrote and posted a blog about that sad episode when Mr. King died little over a year ago. 

My other hope is actually an appeal, a call coming from the deepest fibers of male soul. We appeal to your better instincts and your humanity that the health educators who take up the task of teaching about sexual health teach the truth about the male body and that all the parts that nature or God supremely created for that body belong there permanently, that the foreskin is not something to cut off at birth.

Circumcision is not one of the steps that come with having a son, and curriculum should reflect that this entrenched practice of destroying a body structure forever changes that child’s genitals, something he would never choose to have done himself. Gone are 20,000 nerve endings, the ridge bands, the frenulum, Meissner’s corpuscles, mobile skin — what amounts to 15 square inches of skin in the adult male. Much is lost forever.  And such a waste of precious health-care dollars.

We need to stop looking the other way and respect males’ right to wholeness, the right to keep their foreskins. Genital cutting of girls in this nation rightfully is outlawed, but the practice of cutting off, excising the foreskins of male babies oddly is allowed. How does that happen? It’s sheer hypocrisy and a double standard. Circumcision is performed on a child who has no voice– except his scream. Whose body is it, anyway? Where are the ethics?

 If circumcision were a good thing, the males who survived childhood intact and whole would be getting circumcised, and they don’t — for obvious reasons. They want and like what they have. There are at least 16 functions of the foreskin, and it is not a expendable body part.

 So, we believe young students in Tempe Union need to be educated to respect all the bodies of males and females. It is wrong to teach circumcision like it won’t make any difference. The Family Health curriculum, I’m afraid, soft-peddles on this.

 Adult males do resent they were violated after their birth, and educators ought to have accurate knowledge and empathy. Schools can help ensure that all minors — male and female — remain whole and intact as is so common in most of the world. Please, teach genital integrity and infant rights along the way.

I urge you to adopt the Family Life program and ensure that students learn that males have universal rights to be safe in their bodies when they come into this world.

Please think of the baby boys — beautiful with all their God-given parts, all with intended purposes.

 

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