Sex-ed is failing young people in Canada. Why? “Insert A into B and repeat” just doesn’t cut it anymore. “Abstain till you get married” doesn’t make sense, “wrap it up” doesn’t explain it anymore.
Sex-ed is about more than that. Take Saskatchewan for example, where provincial and territorial premiers are meeting to talk about issues including health and education this week. Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) have reached crisis levels in the province and in 2016, doctors even called on the province to declare a state of emergency on HIV.
STIs can be prevented. Unplanned pregnancy can be prevented. As you shake your head in agreement, remember that even though all of these are preventable, it is the way in which we teach people that makes the difference.
If you are unsure about how to do a quadratic equation, nobody expects you to just figure it out. If you are unsure about the meaning of consent, how herpes is transmitted, and what to do if your period is late, young people are somehow required to figure it out on their own. While no one is disputing that algebra is important, sex-ed can saves lives.
This is not an exaggeration. When done properly, quality sex-ed promotes consent, reduces STI rates and unintended pregnancies, and provides inclusion and safety of LGBTQ+ youth. To put it simply, research tells us that sex-ed leads to the happier, healthier, and safer lives of young people. Those very facts should be enough to end any debate; yet, despite the research and overwhelming parental support for sex-ed (94 per cent in Ontario, 94 per cent in New Brunswick, and 92 per cent in Saskatchewan) we see little leadership from governments.