Catholic trustee pushes for schools to teach more comprehensive sex education
Published on: April 13, 2017 | Last Updated: April 13, 2017 7:16 PM MDT
Edmonton Catholic school board vice-chair Marilyn Bergstra wants her board to lobby the provincial government for a more comprehensive sex education curriculum. IAN KUCERAK / EDMONTON SUN
Rising rates of sexually transmitted infections in Alberta are prompting a Catholic school trustee to push for more comprehensive sex education in schools.
Edmonton Catholic schools trustee Marilyn Bergstra wants her school board colleagues to lobby the provincial government to include lessons about consent, prevention of spreading diseases, and information for LGBTQ students.
“This isn’t about promoting promiscuity,” Bergstra said in an interview Thursday. “This is about teaching students how their body works, what are the risks out there, how do you protect yourself from those risks, what is consent? All of these issues that could have profound implications down the road for our students.”
Bergstra said she’s not sure what approach district schools take to the topic right now, but that the lessons should be consistent across Alberta. No one from Edmonton Catholic Schools was available to comment Thursday afternoon.
In an op-ed last week, Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association president Adriana LaGrange said Alberta Catholic schools teach sex education courses according to the curriculum, and include lessons on abstinence.
Public health research shows teaching abstinence as a sole strategy to prevent pregnancy and the spread of disease doesn’t work, Bergstra said.
“It’s about being realistic. There are going to be students who will find themselves in a situation perhaps they didn’t anticipate, and when that happens, they need to be armed with facts,” she said.
The board also has a duty to prevent rising health-care costs where possible, she said.
Last year, Alberta Health Services said rates of syphilis and gonorrhea in the province had skyrocketed, particularly among young adults, in part thanks to “hook ups” arranged through social media.
Alberta’s K-12 curriculum is currently being reviewed and re-written. Education Minister David Eggen has said it will include updated sex education.
Bergstra plans to present her motion at a meeting of the school board Tuesday.