Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) is a globally recognized human right and upstream public health intervention. There are international gold standards guiding curriculum content and delivery based on strong scientific evidence. Despite evidence that demonstrates the crucial importance of comprehensive sex-ed to achieving better health and social outcomes for young people, the state of comprehensive sex-ed in Canada remains dismal. Governments across the country and around the world have failed to take real leadership on the issue. Right now, in Canada, the sex-ed that most young people receive does not meet international standards and best practices, nor does it meet the 2019 Canadian Guidelines for Sexual Health Education.
This is an issue that is becoming increasingly salient as the world reckons with concurrent global pandemics with significant impacts on public health: COVID-19 and systemic racism and discrimination, including deeply rooted anti-Black racism. As the world simultaneously ground to a halt and came alive during a watershed moment in Black-led activism, it became essential that Action Canada and our partners raise the profile of CSE on the national stage. We see sex-ed as an essential part of our collective response to these issues. It is time to seize the moment and advocate for the kind of sex-ed that can help us create a more just world.
Sex-ed must become a national priority. It is in this spirit and under the banner of the #SexEdSavesLives campaign that Action Canada convened the first ever national gathering of sex-ed champions from numerous sectors to begin discussions about a national sex-ed strategy.
The convening was held on October 20 – 21, 2020. While it was originally envisioned as an in-person conference, the event was reimagined as a virtual gathering when the COVID-19 pandemic made gathering in-person impossible. Participants came from a diverse set of organizations and communities from across Canada and globally, working in education, health, and youth-centered services. The event was also an opportunity to connect the work of global human rights activists and experts with those working toward better access to comprehensive sex-ed in Canada. A full list of the organizations that were represented at the gathering can be found here.
The following report provides a summary of the proceedings, as well as the main takeaways identified by partners in the room:
- The barriers that exist to the implementation of comprehensive sex-ed across the country
- The opportunities for action that our partners see
- Future steps towards a national sex-ed strategy.
 Goldfarb, E. S., & Lieberman, L. D. (2020). Three decades of research: The case for comprehensive sex education. Journal of Adolescent Health. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1054139X20304560