CUPP: How not to talk to your kids about sex

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Photo by Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle


Of all the difficult conversations I will one day have with my now-toddler son — about God, death, war and why Mom loves the Mets while Dad loves the Red Sox — there’s one I’m not all that worried about. Sex.

The popular conceit that every parent dreads the moment when they have to explain the “birds and the bees” to their children feels like an antiquated holdover from the puritanical 1950s, when sexuality was more repressed and communication between the generations was more limited.


Maybe I’m naive, but having grown up in a time of “Sex and the City,” with gay and trans friends galore, among a generation that talks a little too freely, at times, about sex, I’m pretty sure I can handle whatever he throws my way.

Planned Parenthood, however, is certain I’m going to address this issue — with my own child — insufficiently and in fact incorrectly. So they’ve introduced some new guidelines on how to discuss sex and gender with your preschooler. They begin, “Who Has What? A Note About Gender.”

Now, before we get into it, anytime you come across “a note” about anything, run, don’t walk, the other way. It’s not going to be good. For example, in the Playbill of the Broadway musical you paid $300 a ticket to see: “A note about tonight’s performance” means you will not be seeing Neil Patrick Harris, but an understudy. “A note about” anything should always be met with skepticism or outright scorn.

Planned Parenthood’s note about gender should be met with both, but also a heaping dose of mockery. Because, of all the things it is — absurd, irresponsible, pretentious — one thing it definitely is not is scientific.

For starters, according to Planned Parenthood, you should tell your preschooler that “your genitals don’t make you a boy or a girl.”

OK. Well, that’s somewhat true, you might say. Genetic sex is determined when a baby is conceived and either an X or Y sperm cell chromosome fuses with an X egg cell chromosome.

But Planned Parenthood doesn’t provide this actual scientific answer. To the contrary, it suggests saying that “some people with gender identities ‘boy’ or ‘man’ have vulvas, and some with the gender identity ‘girl’ or ‘woman’ have penises/testicles.”

This is more than a bit misleading, especially to a 4-year-old. With this information, a child would surely believe that his friend Brian may in fact have female anatomy under his Underoos, or that Jane is hiding a penis. It’s a half-baked, overwrought, unnecessarily confusing explanation that could actually lead to more painful ridicule and bullying, and not a better understanding of what sex, gender and gender identity are.

The kooky premise also assumes that a child’s actual sex, and not his or her gender identity, is either irrelevant or truly unknowable, despite anatomy.

“You may want to emphasize that it doesn’t matter too much what parts someone has,” they suggest. And, “Your kid figures out what their gender is really early on — and they’ll usually tell you.”

I’m as open-minded as it gets. I don’t presume that because my son likes trucks he’ll be straight, nor do I assume that he’ll always be comfortable in his body. Whatever issues he confronts, I know I’ll be compassionate.

But Planned Parenthood’s confusing nonscience approach to the science of sex and gender is patently and unequivocally bizarre. And yet, because PP is the new liberal religion, and opposing anything it espouses would likely trigger a modern-day Council of Nicaea, you won’t find any smart, rational, science-loving liberals contradicting it.

No, despite the left’s pervasive distortion of simple science in service of their political agenda — not just on gender, but baseless alarmism over nuclear energy and genetically modified foods, to name a few — it’s supposedly conservatives who are anti-science. Sure.

The truth is, sex is more complicated today. But the conversations you’ll more likely need to have with your kids will center on technology — the dangers lurking on the internet, sexting, revenge porn — and not anatomy.

But if you do need help talking to your kids about gender and gender identity — and there’s no shame in that — please, use real science as a guideline, and not garbage propaganda.

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