There is no single topic that will get parents more riled up than the prospect of sex education being taught in schools. As a breeder who has gone to school meetings and seen the same 20 people getting together over and over, it is hard to imagine families suddenly becoming active and engaged. But, hey, that should be a good thing, right?



When the government in the Canadian province of Ontario announced it was reintroducing and enacting a progressive sex education curriculum for schools beginning this September, the news was greeted with both cheers and contempt. While I am certainly on the pro-sex ed side, I have watched with interest the hue and cry of those who object to their little darlings being taught safer sex, gender differences, queerness, and other subjects related to sex. I may not agree with their concerns, but we should listen and consider them.

Listening to Sex Ed Concerns

Yet, we should only listen to a certain extent because their point of concern is ultimately a controversial and individual opinion. Reacting and objecting to sex education being taught in schools is just that ... an opinion. Religious and moral differences are pillars in our society, but they are separate from our governance. The decision to ensure this more progressive exploration of sex and sexuality is a key to moving a positive sex discussion forward.



This fall, Ontario students will begin receiving a much better, much more involved introduction and examination of sex provided in the same venue as they learn mathematics, science, literature and other knowledge. This important information will be imparted by their well-trained and respected teachers.

Should Sex Ed Be Taught By Teachers?

Unfortunately, this is one of the few parts of this plan that doesn't make me happy. I am all for sex education in our schools, but I do not want the curriculum taught by teachers.



Let me be clear: This is not a knock on our teachers. I have always respected and worked well with teachers way back to the time when I was a student myself. Teachers are hard working, dedicated folks who play an integral role in our children's lives. My children have succeeded because some of their teachers were fantastic influences and people.



However, teaching sex ed is a totally different thing than teaching an educational subject.



When people train to teach in Ontario, they focus on two 'teachables.' Those are subjects that they have knowledge of and education in. They are then hired to teach those subjects. This is a great system.



Sex ed is not widely established as a 'teachable.' I am curious if the teaching of the more comprehensive and expanded sex curriculum will fall on physical education and health teachers (as it usually has) who might not have the specialized training and knowledge students deserve. In the future, it is entirely possible teachers will have the academic background with sexuality and gender studies courses growing in popularity. For now, do we make do with professionals who aren’t qualified?

What about Choosing Credentialed Sex Educators?

Instead, there are a growing number of sex educators who work outside of the mainstream school system. Community-based sex education is a growing and thriving industry with people specializing in many of the core aspects of this curriculum. Why aren't these people brought in to speak with students? If provided with the required curriculum, I am sure that many sex educators would translate their knowledge from adult-based learning to child- and teen-based learning. At the very least, they could be consultants who could take subjects such as consent, safer sex, and bullying and make them engaging and informative.


Other Sex Educator Options for Ontario

Another possibility is partnering with community and municipal organizations. Many areas have a health board or department which should be on top of trends, information, needs faced by children and teens when it comes to sex ed, bullying, consent, and more. As another governmental organization, it seems a natural that a dedicated group be assembled and trained to specifically travel from school to school in the region.



Of course, there already is another fantastic organization serving as a resource that could become an integral part of sex education. Planned Parenthood offers many different programs, a wide array of literature, and a dedicated group of staff and volunteers dedicated to providing the best sex education and social help to many people.



Should governments embrace Planned Parenthood as a 'must-have’ resource? Schools and students would greatly benefit. If students are already aware of Planned Parenthood through interaction at school, then they are more likely to seek help from the organization when they aren’t in school.

Providing Shame and Bias Free Sex Education

Something both sides of the sex ed debate should have in common is the presumed ability to teach sex education in a shame-free, bias-free environment that will allow students to ask questions, explore their sexuality, and express concerns and joys. I worry that students will not be afforded this space with educators they see every day. Bias could be a factor. If teachers are required to share information they, personally, do not agree with, negative thoughts could be presented. At the same time, and especially in smaller communities, it is highly possible that teachers and parents could be friends and interact outside school. All of this puts an unnecessary limit on the experience of the students.



We’re at a unique crossroads in society’s acceptance and understanding of the importance of sex education. Finally, in Ontario at least, we’re catching up to the idea that sex, sexuality, gender, bullying, and consent are vital conversations - because their lives depend on it. The blackboard has just been wiped. It's a clean slate. So, who is going to hold the chalk?