With back to school in full swing, we’re excited to share some of the great ideas youth have about the sexual health education they’d like to see in their classrooms.
From January to March this year, we heard from more than 600 high school aged youth. What we heard is clear: too many youth in BC are not getting the sex ed they need to make informed decisions. The youth we heard from shared that sex ed content they are receiving needs to be better: more relevant, more standardized, more affirming, and more fun!
Centring youth perspectives is necessary when it comes to sex ed. Youth we talked to emphasized the need for sex ed content that affirms the bodies and identities of all people, including LGBTQ+/2S youth, acknowledges the variety of ways they can experience sexual pleasure, and links them to the care they need around STIs, HIV, and sexual assault. While this is the vision that youth have for their sex ed, most youth shared that they were learning only about penis in vagina sex. Yet, we know that STIs are passed by oral sex too, and that most HIV diagnoses among young people in BC occur in the context of anal sex.
Youth also shared experiences where the educators delivering sex ed were not always familiar and comfortable with the different ways youth express our gender and sexuality. In these cases, educators often continue the assumption that all of us are cis and straight. One example of this assumption is when sex ed classes are separated by perceived gender, which erases those of us who don’t prescribe to this binary. Youth need sex ed that is affirming of our gender and the many ways we choose to express it!
This project showed us that youth are excited and keen to shape their sex ed curriculum. As one youth in Vancouver said, “stuff are always changing, youth should be consulted at every point.” As a youth-led space, YouthCO centers the voices and ideas of youth in our approach to sex ed, and will continue the work of offering accurate, sex-positive programming for youth, within and beyond classrooms.
This report outlines in more detail who we heard from, and what youth have to say! It is part of a shared project with the Community-Based Research Centre for Gay Men’s Health, called Sex Ed Is Our Right. Stay tuned for more coming from this campaign via Facebook and Instagram, and ways for people of all ages to get involved!