Together for Sex-Ed: Outcomes Report

Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) is a globally recognized human right and upstream public health intervention[1]. There are international gold standards guiding curriculum content and delivery based on strong scientific evidence[2]. 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.[3]

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:

  1. The barriers that exist to the implementation of comprehensive sex-ed across the country
  2. The opportunities for action that our partners see
  3. Future steps towards a national sex-ed strategy.

[1] 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

[2] UNESCO. (2018). International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education. Available at: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0026/002607/260770e.pdf

[3] Sex Information & Education Council of Canada (SIECCAN). 2019. “Canadian Guidelines for Sexual Health Education.” http://sieccan.org/sexual-health-education/.

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Posted on 2021-06-17
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