EKRE MP: Should we be teaching kindergarteners about genitalia?
MP Kert Kingo (EKRE) sent a letter to Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps (Center), in which she asked an array of questions about the sex education preschoolers receive.
Kingo's questions come from the distribution of a publication about sex education teaching materials to kindergarten teachers.
Kingo brought up a recommendation in the publication that she did not agree with: "There could be a child in your group that feels like their natural gender is not suitable for them. This is an excellent time to speak about the issue and to ensure a respectful and understanding attitude. Some might feel that their body is not the right one for them - they feel like a girl, even though they have the parts of a boy, or vice versa. This can be confusing, which is why it is important that we support and accept people for who they feel they are."
Additionally, Kingo points out an exercise in the teaching material: "You are playing with a friend at their house. You are in their room. He shows you his willy. Act out this situation with some of the children. Act out the role of the adult or child taking initiative. Tell the children that their reactions in different situations are individual. There are no right or wrong reactions."
Kingo asked a total of 15 questions. Among others, she asked how genitalia is approached in kindergarten, when the words "boy" and "girl" were removed from the latest curriculum, presented in May. The MP would also like to know if names for genitalia and the location of genitals is a necessary part of education, since all children who can talk already know of them.
Kingo asks if the Ministry of Education and Research (Haridus- ja Teadusministeerium) has approved WHO's sex education programme, which she says teaches "children to pleasure themselves in kindergarten".
Kingo wrote: "I have been contacted by many kindergarten teachers. They [WHO] want kindergarten teachers to teach 4-year old children how to masturbate. I do not think this is reasonable or normal."
The MP is also confused by activites of sexuality educator Rita Holm. "Who was the initiator and asked Rita Holm to come to kindergartens to spread gay propaganda?"
Education minister Mailis Reps has 10 days to respond to the former IT and foreign trade minister's questions.
Kingo said further steps taken will depend on Reps' response.
She noted: "Will our national curriculum really see this through and has this been approved by someone, because the distribution was not conducted by the Ministry of Education, but instead the Criminal Policy Department of the Ministry of Justice."
The Ministry of Justice (Justiitsministeerium) told ERR however that they are not behind the distribution of the publication in question.
Kingo: Sex education should be decided on by the parent
Kingo said preschoolers should not be taught sex education. "Every parent has the right to decide for themselves the capacity and methods on how this education is given to their children at home.
"If some parents do not wish to talk to their children about sex and related subjects, then there is no right to do so in kindergartens."
According to her, sex education should be taught at a later age, taking into account the development of the child.
Kingo added that another concern of hers is that parents often do not often know what their child is taught at kindergarten.
Ministry of Education and Research: Sex education allows children to defend themselves
Liina Põld, head of the General Education Department of the Ministry of Education and Research, told ERR sex education supports the safe and healthy development of children and young people. It is important to teach the subject so children and young people know about sexual abuse and know how to defend themselves.
Kingo thinks this is a fabricated justification. "I have experience with this problem in my earlier work at the Central Criminal Police (Keskkriminaalpolitsei), when pedophiles have abused children and there have been very young children. The argument that a child needs to know how to name... Every family has their own terms for it. A strange woman or man should not go to a kindergarten and start explaining, teaching, and motivating children to show each other their private parts and name them how they want them to be named, even sing about it. That is not an argument. If a child has fallen victim to a pedophile, then that 4-year old would not express the abuse committed like an adult would anyway. And there are methods for getting this information. But it should not be a priority that a child can name their genitalia."
Kingo could not say if and what kind of dangers will accompany sex education in kindergartens. She did however note that speaking on these subjects could create abnormal interest among children.
She said she does not see the purpose behind it. "If something is done, it should have purpose. I do not see any purpose for this currently."
The EKRE MP does not think this requires societal debate: "I just had some questions about this material. I will wait for answers. The need for wider societal debate will depend on those answers."
A new pre-school curriculum is being developed
Liina Põld said the current curriculum has a topic called "Me and the environment", where kindergarten teachers try to turn childrens' attentions to social environment subjects like themselves, family and relatives, social values, social norms, the human body, dangers and safe behavior.
Põld said: "The teacher has many age-appropriate methods to teach this and this also involves sex education. A new pre-school curriculum is also in development. Proposals for it will reach the ministry in September, then we can speak on the proposals regarding different topics."
She concluded that schools and kindergartens are free to invite speakers and educators to speak on age-appropriate sex education related topics: "Of course, it must be ensured that parents are aware of this and that all close to the child are in the same information field."
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste