MONTREAL – As Mariah Fridman sits quietly in a park strumming her ukulele – you would never guess the 16-year-old is the latest internet sensation.
Fridman’s name hit the headlines after her older sister, Jordan, posted her candid answers to a sex education quiz Fridman was given in grade eight.
“She’s an extremely amazing young lady,” her sister wrote in a comment that accompanied a photo of the test.
“I’m so proud of the woman she is becoming.”
The quiz asked students to create possible responses to objections to wearing a condom from a potential sex partner.
“I thought the answers were too cookie cutter, so I made some up of my own,” Fridman told Global News.
“The answers I gave were 100 per cent realistic and exactly what I would say in that situation.”
Some of her responses included:
- “Condoms don’t feel good. It won’t be natural,” with: “Being pregnant doesn’t feel good either”;
- “Just this once; we hardly ever have sex,” with “Now you know why”;
- “They cost too much,” with “STD treatments and babies cost more.”
Contrary to many reports, the then-14-year-old was not suspended from John Rennie High School in Pointe-Claire, Que.
“She didn’t like the use of swear words. Nobody does but she laughed.”
WATCH: Quebec dragging behind Canada’s sex-ed curricula
Fridman’s honest answers are actually rooted in a bigger issue – how to properly teach sex ed in Quebec schools.
“It’s really important to be open with them, realistic,” explained Suanne Stein Day, Lester. B Pearson School Board chairperson.
“To be able to talk to them as people, not as children anymore. They’re teenagers. They are sexually active. We can’t hide behind a bush and deny that fact.”
The province’s sex ed program is under fire, with some saying it lacks structure.
It’s actually not mandatory to teach sex ed in schools at all.
“Teachers don’t receive any formal training on sex education and so, what we’ve been seeing is that since 2005, STI rates and rates of dating violence have actually gone up,” said Malaika Aleba with Head and Hands.
The organization is advocating both for better education, and pushing for a component that talks about consent.
“How do you vocalize what you want? How do you say ‘yes, I want to do this’ or ‘no, I don’t want to do this’ or ‘maybe I will, but later,'” said Aleba .
“I think it’s never too early to start talking to kids about those things.”
In fact, Fridman said her problem with the quiz stemmed from what she calls “unrealistic expectations.”
Fridman said her class has only just started learning about non-anatomy-related issues like consent and relationships.
“I only just learned what consent really was.”
“If I was in that situation, I’d never say ‘No thanks, I don’t want to’; I’d say, ‘No, go screw yourself,'” she said.
Although her answers were frank, and her language a little colourful, Fridman said she doesn’t regret a thing.
“I feel that I have the power to say ‘no’ if I have to,” she told Global News.
“I think everyone needs that.”
WATCH ABOVE: The evolution of sex education