Here is a put-up job from Planned Parenthood -- the winner of apparently some kind of standardized contest (Astroturf, I think the pros call it) in which PP conventioneers seem to compete to produce the most obsequious reverse-'have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife-yet' question. The text of the question and answers is here from the CNN transcript.
Unlike with the homosexual "marriage" matter, the question is actually more revealing than the answers (plus I've already picked on Edwards and Obama¹).
My question is, we here at Planned Parenthood support comprehensive sex education, and I'd like to know if any of you as candidates have talked to your children about sex, and used medically accurate and age-appropriate information?Whether it's "immigration reform" or "sex education," the minute you stick the word "comprehensive" in there, I start looking askance, as if someone is trying to throw a fast one on me or steal some intellectual bases. This particular question also is loaded with rehearsed buzzwords.
But more directly, the question is utterly and totally ridiculous on every front imaginable.
● The president (which I think is the office to which the persons being asked all aspire) has nothing to do with sex education. Governors, state lawmakers, school districts, etc. ... sure. Not the president. He is not sex-educator-in-chief.
● The way the question is specifically put does a slushy slide over from "as candidates" to "talked to your children about sex." But nobody talks to his child about sex "as a candidate." One teaches his children about sex as a parent (or parent-surrogate, like grandparent or even, in principle, teacher). And what one does and says at home in matters relevant to religious values -- as Jonathan Edwards insists -- need not necessarily have anything to do with what one thinks "as a candidate" or "as an officeholder."
Further, nobody denies the need to educate children about sex. The public issue only even comes up when schools that all must attend (in a era when all do not worship the same god) try to address the subject. How do we (or can we) handle moral plurality on this matter? It's not that "as a parent" isn't the same thing as "in public policy," but that the public-policy issue (and the contention therein) comes up only in the context of children who are NOT one's children. All sane people agree that parents have certain prerogatives in raising their own children on which outsiders may not intrude, even for the somewhat better. So asking about "your own children" is exactly the 180-degrees-wrong question.
● The term "medically-accurate" is a shibboleth and actually contradicts the other adjective -- "age-appropriate." Medically-accurate terms generally are not appropriate for children; little boys don't have "penises" or "testicles"; they have "wee-wees" (or whatever was the term in your neck of the woods).
Whatever such lingo lacks in medical precision (and I agree that to an adult in a doctor's office, the talk should be about "your penis" not "your wee-wee" or "your manhood"), it gains in respecting children's innocence. Nor do children really have any need for "medically-accurate" information about reproduction, birth control or abortion. But then Planned Parenthood's idea of age-appropriate includes telling 7-year-olds about masturbation, so apparently people have quite different (and irreconcilable -- reason one why all school-sex-ed should be banned IMHO) understandings of "appropriate."
● Further the very insistence that "medical accuracy" is a relevant criterion hints at reason two why all school-sex-ed should be banned IMHO. Medical accuracy says that sex is a medical (and/or biological) matter. And while it obviously is that in certain contexts, school sex ed that it is not at the same time religious or moralistic (and I think all agree that it should not be that) thereby constructs sexuality as solely a medical/biological matter, without a religious or moral dimension. Regardless of the details of what you say, when you bring up a topic and discuss A, B and C in that context, but not X, Y and Z, you are necessarily marginalizing X, Y and Z in the context of that topic. And in that construction of sexuality, medically-accurate sex ed reduces man to a rutting animal, which is far worse than teaching nothing at all or some ignorance of this or that detail of.
¹ Still, I did find it interesting that both of the candidates talked more about preventing sexual abuse and predators than sex-education in the more customary, and controversial, sense.