A Call for Sex Education Reform
- I move that the Board of Trustees lobby government to revise the existing sex education curriculum. Consideration for a comprehensive curriculum would include, but not be limited to, a program of study that is tailored to a variety of student orientations, be grounded in research, include the concept of consent, relays valuable information and preventative measures against the transmission of sexually transmitted blood borne disease along with prevention of pregnancy. Finally, the Government of Alberta will set out provisions to assure that the delivery of such information is consistently delivered across Alberta in all publicly funded schools.
- That in partnership with Edmonton Public Schools we lobby the Alberta Government to review and revised the existing sex education curriculum based on the merits noted above.
There are a multitude of reasons as to why revisions are required to our current sex education curriculum.
- As a participant in a student lead conversation on sexual orientation at the University of Alberta, it was highlighted that current sex education classes serve little to no value for students who identify as LGBTQ. Like all students, it is vital that these individuals are provided sex related information that allows them a greater understanding of their bodies and issues that would pertain to their orientation.
- A great deal of research is now available that has changed our understanding of the world and our bodies. It is important that all students be afforded research based information that supports good health (both physical and mental) and is prevention focused. Students need to understand their physiology and limits. Too many young students are ending up in hospitals due to a lack of understanding surrounding one’s physiology and associated inaccuracies in information.
- Disease prevention is pivotal in the promotion of healthy students, healthy populations and hence, improving the economic strength of our province. Currently, sexually transmitted blood borne diseases (STBBD aka STIs) are at epidemic levels in Alberta. Public health officials are calling for better education to help curve the spread of these infectious diseases. It is also important to note, that in some cases, diseases such as gonorrhea are becoming increasingly resistant to drugs with 33% of these cases no longer responding to the medications used for treatment of this disease. The degree to which this is successful is very much tied to consistency and competency of instruction across Alberta. This in and of itself merits review and recommendations for effective implementation.
- Tailored programming relating to disease transmission is also urgently needed. Data highlights that some groups within our population are at far greater risk of contracting an STI versus some other cohorts. Just as one example, 1.4 million individuals are currently reported to have HIV in North America (a conservative estimation given that not all cases have been diagnosed or reported). We must empower at-risk groups to make healthy choices. This begins with knowledge and understanding of risks, one’s body, disease transmission and preventative measures.
- Consent is a critical issue that has been largely overlooked in our curriculum. Students need to fully understand what consent looks like. Students need a comprehensive understanding that coercion or guilt is not appropriate. They need to learn to stand up to peer pressure. Likewise, they need to understand fully what consent does mean and under what circumstance. Lastly, they need to understand the legal implications. Far too many young students (largely male) end up on the wrong side of the law, left to deal with the dire consequences of a snap decision. Conversely, on the other end of this spectrum is the emotional and possibly physical damage that the victim will suffer. Often these scars last a life time.
In summary, all persons have the right to fully understand their bodies and understand options that can help protect their health; both physically and mentally. Current gaps in the sex education curriculum have the potential to place students at unnecessary risk. Knowledge is the key to prevention and thus to strong physical and emotional well-being. A lack of information can lead to severe consequences from both a health and legal stance. The time for action is now.