After my initial posting about what it means to be an ally, I dug deeper into teachers who have shared their stories and experiences in being allies. Most interestingly, these teachers aren’t the traditional models that people would think of. More importantly, they don’t teach traditional subjects. They teach young kids about puberty and sex.
Ah yes, the dreaded subject. Sex. What a terrible word to the ears of every student and of every parent. It is difficult to talk about and often times, much of the pressure of sex and puberty education is placed upon the teachers.
Through these podcasts, it’s shown that much of the sex education given to parents was through a book or from friends (I can confirm both of these happened to me as well; the infamous “The Care and Keeping of You” American girl doll has scarred me). I understand now why so many kids have such incorrect ideas surrounding puberty and sex and how vast the role of “teacher as an ally” can be.
As I mentioned in my first post, an ally is meant to educate and support. These podcasts opened my eyes to how important conversation is in being an ally. The idea of understanding what a child needs to hear rather than what an adult would do/say really stuck with me. Being an ally to students and youth is about starting a conversation. It is about being honest with your students while also delivering the information in an age appropriate way.
I also found it interesting how differently boys and girls react to these sex education classes; this can be applied to any situation in which a student may come to me, needing an ally. Every child is different, regardless of their gender and I need to be aware of this if I plan on being a good ally to my students.
Regardless of the subject, kids will take something away from an interaction with any teacher acting as an ally. One such example is a girl named Eileen who became an active member with Planned Parenthood after attending one of these sex education classes at age 10. She no longer covered her ears at the mention of sex; she didn’t feel awkward about her body anymore; she became sex positive.
This can happen through any interaction with my students as an ally.
These podcasts have opened my eyes to just one scope of topics that a teacher as an ally can begin to tackle. I can already feel my idea of what being an ally means broadening and focusing.
So this is what understanding feels like!
Check out the podcasts here: