PEI

P.E.I. sex-ed curriculum needs updating, says professor

P.E.I.'s sexual-education curriculum should be rewritten, says a professor who focuses on sexual health education.

Andre Grace would giving P.E.I.'s sex-ed curriculum a failing grade

Andre Grace is advocating for comprehensive and mandatory sex-ed in schools across the country.

P.E.I.'s sexual-education curriculum should be rewritten, says a professor who focuses on sexual health education.

Andre Grace is the Canada Research Chair in Sexual and Gender Minority Studies at the University of Alberta, and directs the Comprehensive Health Education Workers Project in Edmonton.

He will be on P.E.I. this week to make the case for comprehensive and mandatory sex education across the country.

"There are topics that would be of contemporary concern, like consent focused on sexual and gender minorities, but also the high rates of HIV, infectious syphilis, gonorrhea … that we are seeing in young teenagers — 14- and 15-year-olds," Grace said.

'Uneven delivery' of sex ed across country

Grace said he sees many differences in sex-ed curriculum from one province to another. He also takes issue with parents having the option to withdraw their children from sex-ed classes for religious or moral reasons. 

When you do things in a piecemeal fashion, things kind of get missing.- Andre Grace

"It ends up being a very uneven delivery, so we have some children having access to sexual health ed, and some who have no access," said Grace.

"That's a real concern for me."

Despite what parents might like to think, he said, it's important they realize that there is "a very strong possibility" their children could be sexually active — and they should have access to accurate and up-to-date information.

"They are often —​because they're still developing cognitively— engaging in sexual practices where they're not focusing on safety."

P.E.I. curriculum 'needs serious work'

As for sexual-education curriculum on P.E.I., Grace said he is glad to see efforts to introduce topics such as consent, and a focus on sexually transmitted infections, but he said it's being done in an unsystematic way. 

"People taking a very old curriculum — the folks at the ministry — adding pieces to it, to sort of reflect contemporary changes in law, or what health care is saying should be part of the curriculum. But when you do things in a piecemeal fashion, things kind of get missing," Grace said. 

"[P.E.I.] needs to do some serious work. It needs to pretty much scrap the curriculum and rebuild it."

Like most provinces, he would give P.E.I.'s curriculum a failing grade.

Hearing from parents across the country

Despite the issues he sees with curricula across the country, Grace said he's optimistic that voices in support of comprehensive sex education are getting louder.

"I'm getting contacted by parents groups across the country who want their children to have mandatory and universal sexual health education in schools," Grace said.

Grace will give a presentation in Charlottetown Thursday evening, at the Holland College Prince of Wales campus. The presentation is open to the public. 

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning

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