testimony | Graduated from high school without sex education

On March 27th I read a column in The press on sex education for children in elementary school1. Columnist Rose-Aimée Autumn T. Morin wrote about the program being implemented in Quebec elementary schools. I was pleasantly surprised by what I read. Surprise because I don’t know the same reality at all.

Posted at 3:00 p.m

Frederique Bouvier

Frederique Bouvier
5th secondary school students in a Commission scolaire de Montréal school

I am neither a specialist, nor a journalist, nor an adult who would be credible. I’m just a 16 year old girl who would like to understand. Understand why, after five years in high school, I only took a maximum of four sex education classes. I’m glad we’re educating kids about consent and the different family realities, but should we stop there?

Speaking of approval, I bet there’s not a girl my age in Montreal who doesn’t know at least one story. A tale of – not to say sexual assault – inappropriate behavior that left a teenage girl uneasy that will be remembered for the rest of her life. It makes it all the more important that we teach children the notion of consent, but we, Teenagers and adults did not have access to such education. However, we are actors in this social problem.

How can it be explained that young people who are having their first romantic and sexual experiences receive very little or no sex education? All this without mentioning the realities of the LGBT community that are not known or taught.

In my class alone, there are at least three people who aren’t cisgender, meaning they don’t identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. Three in a class may seem like a lot, but it’s my reality and that of the young people around me. We know how to use pronouns correctly, we know that a person in a relationship doesn’t necessarily have to be straight or gay.

In particular, we know that those of us who are part of the LGBT community will experience discrimination because we do not receive education on the issue.

I don’t blame the teachers, I don’t blame the management, I don’t blame the government. I share a problem that exists and weighs. I don’t think there is a responsible person that people act in bad faith. Still, I don’t think it’s normal that I have to educate my teacher dad about the reality of his LGBTQIA+ students because he hasn’t received any training on the subject. I don’t think the only reason I was able to rush him should be because I was watching sex educationthat I have trans friends and that I did some research on the internet.

I’m not the only one who knows about the lack of sex education in high school. Last year, in the midst of a pandemic, the student council at my school formulated a wonderful project to fill the gaps in the program. The concept was simple: a group of 5 secondary school students trained by an organization gave workshops for 3e and 4e secondary. An anonymous discussion forum would be created to answer questions from those who did not wish to ask them publicly. Specialists would be present at the school as often as possible. I don’t know where this project stands today. Has it been abandoned? Is it the subject of endless discussions? I do not know.

What I do know, though, is that I’ll be graduating from high school in less than three months and still haven’t had proper sex education.

I could have talked about so much more. I could have written about how sexless toilets are very rare in school, how female pleasure is ignored because nobody talks about it, how menstrual pain is still a taboo subject. I maintain: what’s the use of educating children under 10 about the concept of consent and the different family realities if today’s and tomorrow’s adults don’t know them, not out of bad faith but out of lack of education?

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