Sex ed, capital plan among topics to be discussed at Edmonton Public Schools board meeting

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UPDATE: On Tuesday evening, the Edmonton Public Schools board passed a motion to call on the Alberta government for more comprehensive, medically based, age-appropriate sex education to be incorporated into the provincial curriculum.

Sex education has been a hot topic in Alberta this month and it is expected to be discussed once again at an Edmonton Public Schools board (EPSB) meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

A motion is expected to be voted on calls for the the Board of Trustees to write to Education Minister David Eggen in support of “ensuring evidence-based, age-appropriate,
medically accurate, comprehensive, consent-based and inclusive sexual health education in the provincial curriculum.”

The motion will also call for a “clear set of guidelines for vetting third-party presenters” to ensure classroom presentations follow provincial sexual health guidelines.

Earlier this month, video surfaced of a classroom presentation on abortion in Red Deer. It provoked outrage along with an investigation by Alberta Education. The pro-life group at the centre of a controversy, Red Deer and Area Pro-Life, showed a video to Grade 10 Catholic students in March which compared abortion to the Holocaust.

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READ MORE: Alberta pro-life group defends school presentation comparing abortion to Holocaust

“Alberta Education is currently undergoing a curriculum review, including Grades 4-9 health and CALM 20 curricula,” the EPSB says on its website. “Under this area of curriculum, the existing sexual health curriculum offers minimal guidance for teachers on aspects of sexual health, including issues such as consent and sexual health for sexual and gender minority students.

“Additionally, while educators are expected to vet classroom presenters in any subject, many schools across the province have faced difficulty in assessing appropriate presenters in the classroom.”

The EPSB also says in order to tailor its classroom instruction to reflect changes to the School Act – including provisions allowing for gay-straight alliances – and best practices in sexual health education as outlined by Alberta Health Services, updates to the current curriculum are necessary.

READ MORE: Government one step closer to rewriting curriculum for Alberta schools

“Provincial sexual health curriculum should be updated to include current research and best practices in sexual health education. Updated curriculum should support the emotional, intellectual, physical, social, and spiritual wellness of Alberta students.”

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

Just last week, a motion put forward by a Catholic school trustee, calling for changes to sexual education in Alberta schools, was voted down at an Edmonton Catholic Schools board meeting.

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The EPSB is also expected to vote on its three-year capital plan. The deadline for submitting the 2018-2021 plan to the provincial government is May 12.

The proposed plan appears to place an emphasis on the construction of new public schools in Alberta’s capital.

“New construction is primarily being requested in developing, suburban areas,” the EPSB says on its website. “Requests for schools in the developing, suburban neighbourhoods are intended to accommodate the continued growth in population of elementary school-age students, and the continued rollover of these students into junior and senior high schools over the next four years.

READ MORE: 5 new schools, 1 modernization announced for Edmonton

“New construction requests are also contemplated in mature communities where replacement schools represent better value compared to modernization costs. In some cases the modernization costs approach the value of a full replacement.”

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