A recent study shows that Maritime high school graduates are not overly impressed with the sex education they got while in public school.
“The students said it was covered poorly particularly in middle school but even in high school” said Sandra Byers, a psychology professor at the University of New Brunswick.
A study called “Emerging Adults’ Experiences of Middle and High School Health Education” recently compiled by Byers in conjunction with Mount Allison University surveyed close to 300 first year university students in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Ontario.
Byers said most students surveyed rated the biological topics relating to sexual health being taught in school as fair to good.
“On average, most of the topics were not seen as being covered very well,” Byers said.
But she said topics relating to gender identity and sexual orientation got among the lowest scores.
Byers, who is still working on publishing the full report’s findings, said some students reported that the lack of sexual minorities education contributed to bullying.
“Because this topic wasn’t well covered they felt that this was a negative consequence of the lack of coverage of sexual orientation and sexual and gender minority issues in the curriculum.”
Nic Salamanca is the president of the diversity club at Moncton High School. They said most of the members are from the LGBTQ community and said they feel their issues at not being properly addressed in the classroom.
“A lot of the topics that are not covered in our sex ed are things that people are struggling with now,” Salamanca said.
Specifically, Salamanca said, when it comes to gender identity, something they said was barely even touched on in their sex ed curriculum.
“Since it is not talked about in the educational system some people feel that it is not appropriate to talk about.”
Salamanca identifies as gender fluid, at times identifying as male and female. It’s a concept they know can be difficult for others to understand, but Salamanca said that is all the more reason that it should be better covered in the classroom.
The New Brunswick Department of Education says it revised its Grade 9 and 10 Personal Development and Career Planning (PDCP) curriculum two years ago, which now includes topics relating to sexual orientation and gender identity.
“As well as resources and supports within communities associated with promoting and maintaining sexual health,” said media representative Kelly Cormier.
Cormier said the province also developed a LGBTQ inclusive education booklet four years ago and it continues to work with the province’s child youth advocate to provide professional development on LGBTQ inclusive education.
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Dakota King is in Grade 10 at Moncton High School, has been enrolled in the new personal development program and also identifies as gender fluid. King said that the topics of sexual orientation and gender identity are simply quickly skimmed over and there is a lack of in depth discussion of the issues being faced by the LGBTQ youth community.
“Not talking about it is not going to make it go away. It is always going to be there and it is always going to be a part of our world.”