Few subjects inspire controversy like sexual health education for youth—and yet fact-based sexual health education is a right for all humans, children and youth included.
Evidence suggests that education reduces negative outcomes like sexually transmitted and blood borne infections (STBBIs) as well as unplanned pregnancies. Studies reveal youth who have adequate sexual health education delay sexual activity. However, there is more to comprehensive sexual health education than just learning about condoms or pregnancy.
According to the World Health Organization, sexual health is “…a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.”
While many teachers embrace the importance of teaching sexual health, it may be intimidating to implement in the classroom. Controversy over the appropriateness of certain topics can make it difficult to teach without fears of administrative disapproval or parental backlash.
Finally, some teachers worry about their level of expertise as it relates to such medical knowledge as contraceptives and sexually transmitted and blood borne infections.
In the past, sexual health was often glossed over in June with brief talk of infections and condoms. However, guidelines suggest that the best sexual health education is incorporated across the curriculum, and includes not only the negatives of sexual health, but the positives of how it contributes to wellbeing. Ideally, we not only inform our youth about their sexual health, but give them the motivation to make better choices, as well as the skills to negotiate complex relationships. Part of this involves allowing students time to practice these skills through role playing with their peers.
This website gives you tools to bring well-informed sexual health education to your students. The basics are there—condom use and how to avoid pregnancy. But there is so much more to preparing students for the real world: healthy relationship skill, how to support youth who are queer or questioning, critical media literacy, and the self-esteem to decline unwanted sexual activity.
We have also included material to help you differentiate your sexual health education for students with disabilities. You will also discover information on how to support students who identify as LGBTQ2*.
We have suggested lessons to inspire your units on sexual health. Not all activities will be perfect for your students’ level or particular outcomes. However, they should provide you with a place to start.
Although this curriculum may seem daunting, there are many resources out there to support you: the Department of Education, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Public Health and your local sexual health centres. Professionals associated with the various school boards, such as Community Health Workers and Peer Health Mentors are also excellent resources.
Please contact us if you have any suggestions, questions or comments. Links and content change frequently. If you find any broken links, please email us to report them.
This site is for you, so please let us know what we can do to make this useful to your pedagogy.
Everything you need to teach sexual and reproductive health. SHNS has broken these resources into categories so searching for what you need is easy.
These resources and materials have been developed by SHNS Member Centres and partners. Please feel free to use and share these materials as you wish.