Not many people outside the province know this, but it’s true that Quebec does not offer secondary school students any specific sexual health education. Very surprising for such a progressive place, isn’t it! The idea is that teachers are supposed to weave it into the regular curriculum. I can already imagine that being a stretch in English (although we all did enjoy Othello) but maths? or physics? Actually, I guess in theory you could get really creative, but I have a hard time imagining it happening in reality.
And it isn’t. All the health statistics you might care to chuck together show that it’s been a mitigated disaster. While you might have seen last week’s Rutherford Mansfield article about research that shows teens look to their parents more than anyone else for sexual role models, society nonetheless obviously has a “safety net” role to play here. If you disagree, you might want to ask the opinion of 15 year old Québécoise - she’s five times more likely to have gonorrhea than a woman over 24.
While we wait for the Government of Quebec to get its act together, check out seskalee’s article about an excellent civil society initiative -
Did you know that sex education has been virtually phased out of Quebec high schools since 2005? This is why Head and Hands created The Sense Project: a peer-based sexual health education program in Montreal schools.
Image: This was a newborn with gonococcal ophthalmia neonatorum caused by a maternally transmitted gonococcal infection. Unless preventative measures are taken, it is estimated that gonococcal ophthalmia neonatorum will develop in 28% of infants born to women with gonorrhea. It affects the corneal epithelium causing microbial keratitis, ulceration and perforation. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Health Image Library