British Columbia

B.C.'s sex education curriculum: Hit or miss

As children across the country head back to school, some will be getting a different sexual education curriculum than others. Ontario has updated its curriculum while B.C. had only made a few tweaks.

'What matters is what happens in the classroom,' educator says.

Children across the country are heading back to school, and some will be getting a different sexual education curriculum than others. 

Ontario has recently updated its curriculum to make it more specific, while B.C. has only made some minor changes. 

"What is changing is where the actual topic lives in the curriculum," said Glen Hansman, vice president of the B.C. Teachers' Federation.

Previously, sex-ed was taught in health and career planning by classroom teachers or school counsellors. Now it's moved to physical and health education.

Many worry the change will mean physical education teachers will now have to teach the topic to students.

Hansman says that's not necessarily the case. In fact, schools and teachers can decide how it's taught.

"But most schools might just continue doing as they are now," explained Hansman.

B.C. has also added more direct references to the topic of sexual identity, to be addressed in the intermediate grades.

B.C.'s sex ed curriculum more general and broad

Compared to Ontario, B.C.'s sexual education curriculum is more general in its wording and more flexible in scope, educators say,

Saleema Noon is a sexual education teacher who often gets hired by parent advisory councils to supplement the school's curriculum. She says B.C.'s vague curriculum is be both good and bad.

"Right now, here in B.C., it is hit or miss," Noon said. "You can have the most amazing, comprehensive curriculum document, but what matters is what happens in the classroom."

Noon says B.C.'s curriculum gives teachers the freedom to teach the content in ways they think will resonate with students. But in B.C. as in Ontario, there is no mandatory training for teachers who teach sexual education. 

Noon said sex education training for teachers is needed in B.C., as is more more funding and more resources.

"What we need more of is to support for our teachers, offer them good resources that kids can relate to, and offer them training."

Sex Ed in B.C. vs Ontario (Source: Ministry of Education in Ontario and B.C.)


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