Every Quebec elementary and high school student will receive mandatory sex education, integrated into their current classes, as of next September, Education Minister Sébastien Proulx announced Thursday morning.
The program will be based on the pilot project the Education Ministry launched two years ago, which urged all teachers to integrate sexual ed content into their courses throughout the school year.
About a million students will have access to age-appropriate information on sexuality, anatomy, body image, social roles, sexual assault, sexual relations, stereotypes and sexually transmitted diseases, among other topics.
The program wasn't well received by teachers and their unions. They denounced the lack of training provided to educators in order to teach the content.
Some parents have also criticized the program because they feel elementary school students in lower grades are too young to be taught the content.
"I know it's not an easy subject, I know these are sensitive questions, but we now have a societal response to a societal issue, and this is what we're going to do," Proulx told reporters in Quebec City, during the forum on sexual violence and harassment in Quebec City.
Over the past two years, Proulx has made more attempts at encouraging schools to implement sex education on a voluntary basis, but his endeavours to do so have had little success.
Many teachers' unions denounced the plan, saying it puts pressure on educators who aren't properly trained to give those kinds of lessons.
Some families not enthused by plan
Premier Philippe Couillard told The Canadian Press the sex education will consist of activities peppered throughout the child's schooling, rather than specific classes.
"I have the impression that the vast majority of Quebecers want this," Couillard said. "This is the point we're at, clearly."
The activities are to be integrated into other courses, such as French and math, per a formula that's been tested for the past two years.
The premier acknowledged the subject matter still "provokes some social tensions."
"Not all families are enthusiastic about the idea" of their child learning about sex at school, he said.
Pressure on Quebec to prevent sex assaults after wave of accusations
A wave of sexual assault accusations that have surfaced in the media contributed to pressure on Quebec to prevent sexual assaults, starting with education.
The pilot project launched in the 2015-2016 school year and set aside five hours of sexual education content per year for elementary school and 15 hours for high schools.