Today's Chicago Sun-Times includes,"Romney targets Obama - with a twist," by columnist Lynn Sweet.
"GOP White House hopeful Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, in a bid to highlight his support of abstinence education and appeal to his base vote, is going after Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).
"Romney is twisting benign comments Obama made about sex education to a Planned Parenthood Action Fund conference to bolster his credentials among, apparently, the GOP voters who see themselves as sole proprietors of 'faith and values.'"
Ms Sweet notes that Obama emphasized that sex education needs to be "age appropriate." Left unstated is what exactly that means.
Obama spokesman Bill Burton told MSNBC's First Read that his boss is talking about protecting children from predators. "In addition, he issued a document showing that the Oregon Department of Education has guidelines for sex education for children in grades K-3 (which includes understanding the difference between a good touch and a bad touch). . . "
Yes, it does. But if Oregon is the model on which Senator Obama is basing his recommendation, other questions develop.
Oregon's guidelines include:
Understanding body parts, proper anatomical names, stages in basic growth process
Communicable/non-communicable diseases, the concept
Recognize risk behaviors (sharing body fluids) and methods of prevention
That doesn't sound like merely helping children understand the difference between good touching and bad touching.
Do parents want government schools providing proper anatomical names to their 5-year-olds? Does discussion of communicable diseases include talking about HIV if one of the students brings it up? And suppose children want a detailed explanation of precisely what body fluids are? What about parents who don't want schools teaching these concepts? How easy would it be for them to opt out and would their children be stigmatized if they did?
Ms Sweet is wrong about how benign all this is. And Governor Romney is right on target in challenging the Obama proposal.