The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Sex education is badly needed

Sue Greenwald speaks during a 2021 Nebraska Board of Education meeting about sex education. (Courtesy of Nebraska Department of Education)
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The July 25 front-page article “In Nebraska politics, an early ‘grooming’ debate,” about opposition to sex education in Nebraska, felt personal to me.

In 1992, I was co-valedictorian of York High School in Nebraska, but I was ignorant. I needed more sex education.

I thought only straight, cis people existed. It turns out some of my school friends were gay, but they couldn’t tell me. Later, I wanted to reexamine small-town life. I researched the queer community around Kearney, Neb., as a reporter at the Kearney Hub. I discovered that, yes, LGBTQ people also exist in central Nebraska.

In my teenage years, we didn’t understand sexual predation. Girls dated adult men, and we thought nothing of it. In an underground newspaper my senior year, many students wrote about being abused.

As teens, we knew not to confide in adults. The information they had coughed up about sexuality was suspiciously incomplete, riddled with misogyny and frosted with false fairy tales about joyous virgin sex on wedding nights.

Now, courageous educators in Nebraska want to tell it like it is, to protect children from bigotry, confusion and predation, and yet they’re losing.

Anne Marie Pecha, Leesburg