Half of the students in your classroom identify as boys, right? And yet, most sex education is taught by educators who identify as female. And most sex education curriculum is developed by people who identify as female. This often results in sex education that is not as relevant and relatable for boys. This post will share inclusivity tips for boys.
Tip 1: Get familiar with the terms.
Boys face unique pressures to conform to harmful gender stereotypes. They are subject to adhering to the “boy code,” a narrow set of expectations that place them under great stress to conform. When raised in the culture of “toxic masculinity,” they can learn norms, values, and attitudes that are harmful to themselves and others. Learn more by reading How Boys Suffer: The Boy Code and Toxic Masculinity by Parent Map and Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys, by Dan Kindlon. Watch “The Mask You Live In,” a 2015 video about masculinity.
Tip 2: Learn and teach about the typical stages of puberty.
When you teach male-bodied students what changes to expect, they are better able to manage puberty. They are also more likely to be supportive of peers who are experiencing puberty at a different rate or stage than their own. Much bullying can be avoided when boys appreciate the unique way each person grows through puberty. “The 5 Stages of Puberty in Boys” by Verywell Family and “The Stages of Puberty: Development in Girls and Boys” by Healthline clearly describe what to expect.
Tip 3: Teach boys about consent.
Often, discussions about consent focus on girls and omit boys entirely. It is important that boys understand how to ask for consent before touching others’ bodies or possessions. Likewise, boys need to learn how to give or refuse consent when someone asks for their consent. My blog post includes a whole list of great resources and videos for teaching kids about consent.
Tip 4: Share resources for parents.
Parents are the primary sex educators for their children, but they often wonder how to start the conversations about puberty. They also question what is typical sexual behavior during childhood versus behaviors that might indicate a need to get help. You can equip parents for their important role by providing supportive resources. Share handouts on typical childhood sexual development and puberty books lists with the parents of your students so they can support their boys’ healthy sexual development.
Tip 5: Take a course.
Educators can learn more about the unique learning strategies that can specifically engage boys. If you want to make sure to implement sex education that includes boys can take this Rutgers online class titled “Boys and Sex Ed.” I took it and thought it was very helpful.