Edmonton Catholic school trustee says gaps in sex-ed classes could be putting students at risk

Catholic school trustee calls for overhaul of sex education in Alberta
WATCH ABOVE: A Catholic school trustee is pushing the province for a sex-ed overhaul. She says students could be at risk, especially when it comes to sexually transmitted infections. Kendra Slugoski reports.

UPDATE: On Tuesday, April 18, 2017, Marilyn Bergstra’s motion to make changes to sexual education in Alberta schools was voted down at an Edmonton Catholic Schools board meeting.

Marilyn Bergstra knows the motion she plans to bring forward Tuesday at the Edmonton Catholic School Board meeting will be controversial and ruffle some feathers.

“I don’t want it to be,” she said from her home Friday morning. “I simply want our students protected.”

Bergstra is calling for a revamp of the province’s sexual education curriculum, and is hoping her fellow trustees will lobby with her.

“This isn’t about promoting promiscuity,” Bergstra said.

“I would hope our students, when armed with the facts, would make the best decision for themselves, but we have to be realistic.”

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Scroll down to read Bergstra’s full motion.

Bergstra, who is working on her master’s degree in public health, pointed to a spike of sexually transmitted infections in our city.

Data from Alberta Health Services from 2015 showed an increase in both chlamydia and gonorrhea cases for males and females aged 15 to 19.

WATCH: Syphilis and gonorrhea on the rise in Alberta

Bergstra said there are inconsistencies across Alberta; some teachers go into detail and others gloss over parts of the curriculum.

She also said many current classes do not help students who identify as LGBTQ.

“The curriculum is approached based on the assumption that everyone is heterosexual.”

Minister of Education David Eggen said every aspect of the K-12 curriculum is currently under review, including sexual health. The last upgrade was in 2002, and changes to the Human Sexuality programming for high school students will likely take four to six years.

He would not say exactly what changes could be coming.

“There is a strong desire to have sexual health and education rooted in safety and in public health concerns,” Eggen said.

READ MORE: Drug-resistant STIs mean ‘if you don’t wrap it up, you’re in trouble’

 Bergstra wants all publicly funded schools in Alberta to focus on sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy prevention, stating a message of abstinence-only doesn’t work.
“We live in the real world, we don’t get to choose what diseases are out there.”

Trustee Bergstra’s motion on sexual education:

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“1. That the board of trustees lobbies government to revise the existing sex education curriculum. Consideration for a comprehensive curriculum would include, but not be limited to, a program of study that is tailored to a variety of student orientations, grounded in research, includes the concept of “consent”, relay valuable information and preventative measures against the transmission of sexually transmitted blood borne disease along with prevention of pregnancy. Finally the government of Alberta would set out provisions to assure that the delivery of such information is consistently delivered across Alberta in all publicly funded schools.
2. That in partnership with the Edmonton Public Schools we lobby the Alberta Government to review and revise the existing sex education curriculum based on the merits noted above.”