Parents and teachers are advocating for more comprehensive and consistent sexual health education in the Nanaimo school district.
While the school district said sexual health is taught either by someone contracted by parent advisory councils or a teacher, École North Oyster Elementary’s advisory council has written the board to request a sexual health educator be specifically hired to teach at all schools.
Sexual health is part of the province’s curriculum, but not all teachers may feel comfortable with subject matter and students may feel uncomfortable being taught by someone they see on a regular basis, according to the council.
Staff from Cinnabar Valley Elementary School have also written the school board, asking for a fully funded sex health education program.
Fiona Steeves, North Oyster parent advisory council chairwoman, said her group fundraises to have a specialized educator provide age-appropriate sexual education from kindergarten to Grade 7. The council seeks consistent information delivery and quality of education for all schools across the district.
“The younger you start teaching them about their bodies and proper terminology … the more you can teach them, the less likely they will be sexually abused and of course, it’s all taught age appropriate,” said Steeves.
Being body aware and knowing what your boundaries are, as a person, helps with your self image, she said.
The school board is beginning to examine the requests and according to Stephanie Higginson, school board vice-chairwoman, the two pieces of correspondence show the desire in the community to explore changes on sexual health education delivery.
“It’s a complicated issue that kind of rears its head every now and then … it’s in the ministry curriculum that it has to be taught, but there’s no standardization in terms of how it’s taught,” said Higginson.
Steeves said she understands the financial constraints facing the school district, but the request adheres to a district goal of continually improving instruction and assessment.