Shaykh Zahir Bacchus, advisory board member for the Islamic Teacher Education Program, and Imam Belal Ahmed, graduate of the Online Certificate Program, were among a group of four imams chosen to review the Sexual Education Parent’s Guide offered by the Peel Board of Education in Ontario, Canada.
According to this Toronto Star newspaper article, they gave support and approval for the guide and the idea of teaching sexual education in the classroom in general. However, Shaykh Zahir adds that “it’s important that parents talk about cultural and faith values with their children” in addition to what is taught in schools, Islamic or otherwise.
Over the years, the Islamic Teacher Education website has included a number of voices from educators advocating for a framework from which to teach sexual education in the classroom.
Our most recent webinar Q&A: Teaching Sexual Education in an Islamic School, by C101 Course Instructor, Br Dylan Chown, allowed for a variety of topics to be covered in a Q&A Session for parents and teachers.
Br Dylan’s webinar was an extension of a previous webinar conducted earlier titled, Case Study: Implementing Sexual Education in an Islamic School. This was a narrative of his own experience introducing sexual education as an integral part of the overall health and physical education program at the Islamic school he was teaching at. The process he took, and the guidelines and principles which he highlights are a must-know for any teacher or school wanting to follow suit.
Dr Nadeem Memon’s blog post, Why Don’t We Teach Sex-Ed in Islamic Schools? touches upon why sexual education in Islamic schools is often considered taboo and why it actually should be addressed. He offers a framework on how to approach students about the topic from a fiqh perspective, but also from a place of responsibility for one’s actions as a young adult Muslim.
Not surprisingly, Sr Reem Javed’s blog Teaching About Gender and Sexuality in Islamic Schools, speaks of the necessity of tying the Islamic tradition to gender and sexuality, and in doing so highlights the necessity for Islamic schools to address the topic from this framework. So much from our tradition requires the proper understanding of sexual education within the context of the Prophetic example, yet our Islamic schools typically do not do it justice or refuse to address the topic at all.
Dr. Fida Sanjakdar, a professor in education at Monash University in Australia, presented a webinar on the place of Sexual Education in Islam, and by extension in the classroom. Her presentation challenges the concept that sexual education is contradictory to Islamic principles, or new to the tradition, and highlights a framework that integrates Islam into the discussion on sexual education.
The next step is to take these pieces and develop a framework that places sexual education in the Islamic school context in the form of a general curriculum on the topic. This framework, as mentioned by Br Dylan, must be from the place of strength not fear, as well as from a place of responsibility, as highlighted Dr Nadeem.
Islamic schools can use one of these frameworks as a starting point. Perhaps collaboration is necessary, but what is essential is that students need to know about sexual education, and Islamic school teachers must teach them – in partnership with parents and the community.
There is much to be done in this regard. What are some resources you find beneficial regarding teaching sexual education within Islamic principles? How do you or your school address this subject? What curricular dimension do you have in place?