US parents in uproar after 5yo class learns of masturbation, consensual touch in health lesson

children learning about bodies and masturbation in a classroom
Parents were reportedly angry the lessons included gender identity and consent. Photo credit: Getty.

Parents at an elite private school in New York City are up in arms after learning their five-year-olds were taught about masturbation and consent in a sexual education lesson. 

According to The Daily Mail, a health teacher showed students a clip from the free sex education series for children called AMAZE, in which a cartoon boy and girl named 'Keith and Kayla' ask about erections and arousal. 

"Hey, how come sometimes my penis gets big sometimes and points in the air?" a boy questions in the clip, adding that "sometimes I touch my penis because it feels good".

Then Kayla adds: "Sometimes when I'm in my bath or when mum puts me to bed, I like to touch my vulva too."

"You have a clitoris there, Kayla, that probably feels good to touch the same way Keith's penis feels good when he touches it," the adult character tells the little girl, before teaching them about keeping these acts private. 

"Have you ever noticed that older kids and grown-ups don't touch their private parts in public? It's okay to touch yourself and see how different body parts feel - but it's best to only do it in private."

Parents were also reportedly angry the lessons included gender identity and consent, including teaching children their parents and grandparents shouldn't touch them without asking permission.

"I'm paying $50,000 to these assholes to tell my kid not to let her grandfather hug her when he sees her?" one mother asked the New York Post. 

A school spokesperson told TMZ: "As part of Dalton's comprehensive health curriculum for students, a lesson on gender and bodies included two evidence-based and age-appropriate videos approved for students four years and older. 

"We consistently review our Health curriculum, making sure that the content is developmentally appropriate and, if necessary, we adapt our curriculum accordingly."

It's not the first time the contentious issue of teaching children about masturbation has been raised. In 2019, UK sex expert Kate Dawson claimed children as young as 11 should be given lessons on how to pleasure themselves sexually, to remove shame and stigma attached to the act.