July 11, 2014 1:44 pm

Edmonton principals told to abstain from using Pregnancy Care Centre to teach sex ed

Watch above: Edmonton public school principals are being told to stop using the Pregnancy Care Centre to help teach sex ed classes. As Kendra Slugoski explains, it comes after a complaint from a student and her mother.

EDMONTON —  The Edmonton Public School Board will instruct principals to stop using the pro-life Pregnancy Care Centre to teach sex education in high schools.

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Acting superintendent Lorne Parker said parents contacted the board to raise concerns after an Edmonton teen and her mother launched a complaint to the Alberta Human Rights Commission, saying the school district’s use of the Christian-based centre to teach part of a core course infringed on their rights as non-Christians.

“All they said was the negative things about contraception…and only positive things about abstinence,” said the mother, Kathy Dawson.

“On the first day [my daughter Emily] texted me that they’re telling the girls to be careful what to wear.”

Dawson says she came to the class with her daughter the next day and couldn’t believe what she heard.

“I started taking notes because things just got crazy… like, gonorrhoea killing you in under three days.”

Her daughter says the group also portrayed single parents in a negative light.

“To be honest, I was just surprised that there was no science involved in it.”

Parker said that a board review found the group’s workshops followed all guidelines for the sex education portion of CALM — or Career and Life Management, a course required for high school graduation.

“The information being provided was not of a religious nature and was aligned with the curriculum and scientifically based,” he maintains.

It was left up to principals to decide whether or not they wanted to bring in the group. Parker said guest speakers are brought in to make the subject matter “more engaging” for students, and offer them a “balanced” perspective on a subject.

But starting this fall, schools will have to use different instructors, Parker told Global Edmonton.

“The challenge for us is this has become a very divisive conversation. There is no desire by the district to have that occur around programming for students,” he said.

“We want to have parental support for what we’re doing…so moving forward, the district will be looking at other providers.”

While Kathy Dawson is happy about that, she says she doesn’t plan to drop her human rights complaint until the school board changes its policy in writing.

Moving forward, she also wants parents to be told about all guest speakers and have the option to opt out.

CALM courses are underway this summer at Edmonton’s public schools, but the Pregnancy Care Centre is not teaching any of them.

Norah Kennedy of the Pregnancy Care Centre says the organization is “shocked and upset.”

“I’m very disappointed. This comes as a tremendous shock to all of us, especially in light of the fact that the school board had actually sent observers, unbeknownst to us that they were going to show up, and they came to the classroom in which we were presenting and gave a glowing report, from what I understand.”

Kennedy says her group was brought in to teach free of charge and has always been open about its “abstinence-based” teaching.

With files from Kendra Slugoski, Global News

© Shaw Media, 2014

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