Inclusive Puberty Education Matters to Parents

Inclusive puberty education matters to parents because it respects the diversity represented in family structures and identities.

Every parent wants their child to feel welcomed and comfortable at school. Inclusive puberty education matters to parents and other caregivers because it respects the diversity represented in family structures and identities.

What Is Inclusive Puberty Education?

Let’s back up a bit and define some terms. Inclusive means “not excluding any of the parties or groups involved in something” or “allowing all kinds of people to belong.” Puberty education is the instruction that teaches students about the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive developments that happen as they change from children into adults. So, inclusive puberty education teaches about the changes of puberty in a way that all students can understand and identify with.

Some people only think about gender identity and sexual orientation when they hear the word inclusive. While that is one of the components of being inclusive, it is so much more. In the broadest sense, inclusive puberty education considers the variety of developmental needs, races/ethnicities, abilities, genders, languages, orientations, family structures, and socioeconomic factors present in every classroom. Inclusive puberty education celebrates the diversity of students and their families, rather than teaching only the stereotypes that fit the dominant culture in the community. In doing so, all students benefit from developing increased understanding and empathy for people who are not like them.

Why Inclusive Puberty Education Matters to Parents

So, why is inclusive puberty education so important to parents? These are a few reasons:

  1. Partnership with Educators: Parents want to do a good job of teaching their child about puberty, but many aren’t sure how. They depend on school staff to teach the facts that they don’t know. They want this instruction done in a way that respects their family and cultural values and encourages parent-child discussions at home.
  2. Age-Appropriate Facts and Skills: Parents want their children to be taught at an age-appropriate level. They want to know their children will be equipped with the medically accurate information and research-based skills needed to thrive at each developmental stage.
  3. Healthy Relationship Development: Parents want their children to be able to form positive relationships with peers and family members. They want children to avoid relationships that have unhealthy characteristics. Relationship skills, including respect, consent, and communication, will help children into adulthood as they select life partners.
  4. Child Safety: Parents are concerned about keeping children safe from predators. When children are taught inclusive puberty education, they are less likely to be targeted for victimization and more likely to be able to report anything that violates their body boundaries.
  5. Body Positivity: Parents might be concerned about rates of growth, development of secondary sex characteristics, body weight, and body size. During puberty, children often experience teasing or bullying based on their appearance. Learning about the diversity in rates of development and body characteristics can help parents support their children through these changes.
  6. Understanding and Acceptance of Others: Parents want their children to show respect and empathy to those around them, even people who are different from them. Parents of children who do not fit society’s dominant expectations want their children to be treated with respect and acceptance. These expectations may be related to race/ethnicity, body appearance, ability, gender, sexual orientation, and more. Inclusive puberty education teaches respect for the diversity of identities and the range of biological features that are represented in every community.

Support for Inclusive Puberty Education

More than 90% of parents support inclusive puberty education because it empowers their children to stay safe, build healthy relationships, and respect the changes experienced by themselves and others. Those who don’t want their children to participate in inclusive puberty education can opt out of any instruction that doesn’t meet their needs. Most parents are grateful for the many benefits inclusive puberty education provides to their children.

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