Barrie pharmacist launches monthly sexual health sessions to bridge education gap

A Barrie pharmacy has launched free monthly information sessions on sexual health and sexual safety, to help bridge the information gap created by the provincial government's decision to change Ontario's sex-ed curriculum.

#JustAsk campaign covers cyberbullying, sexting, online predators and human trafficking

Students at more than 100 schools across Ontario walked out of class to protest changes to the province's sex-ed curriculum. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

A Barrie pharmacy has launched free monthly information sessions on sexual health and sexual safety, to help bridge the information gap created by the provincial government's decision to change Ontario's sex-ed curriculum.

Express Aid Pharmacy, which has stores on Grove Street and Leacock Drive, will be holding monthly information sessions led by community leaders to cover issues no longer being discussed with the re-introduction of the 1998 sex-ed curriculum.

The sessions will cover a variety of topics, including consent, online safety, abuse, LGBT issues, cyberbullying and sexual health.

"We had seen reports of an increase in sexually transmitted infections in the region, there was also the #MeToo movement, and all this was happening and the curriculum was reverting back 20 years," Andrew Schonbe, pharmacist-owner of Express Aid Pharmacy, told CBC's Ontario Morning on Tuesday.

Schonbe said the information provided will fill the gaps created by the outdated curriculum. He said some of the major gaps he's observed are a lack of information on proper contraception, preparation, emergency contraception, access to condoms and HIV prevention.

"These conversations led to discussions about why there are gaps, which led to conversations about consent, online safety and other factors," he said.

Last Friday, students at more than 100 schools across Ontario walked out of class to protest the province's decision to repeal a modernized version of the sex-ed curriculum, which was introduced by the previous Liberal government.

It's been a hotly debated issue among educators, politicians and health professionals. 

Late last month, the government released a curriculum meant to temporarily replace the modernized version. But observers have said it makes passing mention of modern concepts such as the internet and cellphones, but largely reverts to the vague language and broad topic outlines used in the previous curriculum that was last updated in 1998.

"We're there for resources, so parents and youth have a safer space that they can come to and get those resources," said Shonbe. "And then parents can take that information and pass it on to their children."