A provocative inquiry into how we teach our children about bodies, sex, relationships and equality–with revelatory, practical takeaways from the author’s research and eye-opening observations from the world-famous Dutch approach
Award-winning author Bonnie J. Rough never expected to write a book about sex, but life handed her a revelation too vital to ignore. As an American parent grappling with concerns about raising children in a society steeped in stereotypes and sexual shame, she couldn’t quite picture how to teach the facts of life with a fearless, easygoing, positive attitude. Then a job change relocated her family to Amsterdam, where she soon witnessed the relaxed and egalitarian sexual attitudes of the Dutch. There, she discovered, children learn from babyhood that bodies are normal, the world’s best sex ed begins in kindergarten, cooties are a foreign concept, puberty is no big surprise, and questions about sex are welcome at the dinner table.
In Beyond Birds and Bees, Rough reveals how although normalizing human sexuality may sound risky, doing so actually prevents unintended consequences, leads to better health and success for our children, and lays the foundation for a future of gender equality. Exploring how the Dutch example translates to American life, Rough highlights a growing wave of ambitious American parents, educators, and influencers poised to transform sex ed–and our society–for the better, and shows how families everywhere can give a modern lift to the birds and bees.
Down to earth and up to the minute with our profound new cultural conversations about gender, sex, power, autonomy, diversity, and consent, Rough’s careful research and engaging storytelling illuminate a forward path for a groundbreaking generation of Americans who want clear examples and actionable steps for how to support children’s sexual development–and overall wellbeing–from birth onward at home, in schools, and across our evolving culture.
Bonnie J. Rough is the author of The Girls, Alone, and Carrier: Untangling the Danger in My DNA. An award-winning essayist and memoirist with an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Iowa, her essays have appeared in numerous publications. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Seattle, and makes frequent trips back to their former home in the Netherlands.