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Parents’ Guide to Teaching Sexual Health

Young people need easy-to-understand, science-based facts about sexual health. These facts help them make informed choices that support their personal well-being and the well-being of others. Teaching children and teens about sexual health is a responsibility parents, schools and the community share.

WHAT IS TAUGHT IN THE CLASSROOM?

Sexual health education is a required part of the Alberta Education curriculum. It is taught as part of Health and Life Skills in Grades 4–9 and as part of Career and Life Management in Grades 10–12. The Alberta Education curriculum identifies specific learning goals for each grade level.

For students of all ages, sexual health education must:

  • be science-based and free of bias
  • honour self-worth and dignity
  • be inclusive of personal, family and social values
  • respect individual differences
  • provide a supportive environment for students to learn and ask questions
  • use age-appropriate teaching methods and materials

WHAT IS YOUR ROLE AS A PARENT?

As a parent, you play an important role in conversations about sexual health, helping your child develop values and beliefs about information presented in the classroom—and making good decisions as a result.

You may request that your child be exempt from instruction on human sexuality, or just from specific presentations or topics. Your child’s school will let you know in advance when the Alberta human sexuality curriculum is taught, and will give you the option to request an exemption.

If you don’t know enough about a guest speaker or their presentation, ask your child’s teacher or principal. Schools will provide you with information that will help you decide if you want to request an exemption for your child.

If you choose for your child not to participate:

  • You can decide whether you want your child to leave the classroom or remain in the classroom without participating.
  • There will be no academic penalty for not participating.
  • Your child will not have an alternative assignment; however, the teacher will provide a productive way for your child to spend this time.

If you have a concern about how sexual health is taught in your child's school, follow the process for raising a concern about something at school. As with any concerns you may have, the first step is to talk to your child's teacher.

HOW DO TEACHERS CHOOSE GUEST SPEAKERS?

Some teachers invite guest speakers into the classroom to talk about sexual health. These presenters can provide a real-world view and more extensive knowledge of specific topics related to sexual health.

The Teaching Sexual Health website includes a list of community agencies that offer services, programs and sexual health education. Many of these agencies offer classroom presentations. 

Information presented by guest speakers must meet all the same standards, goals and curriculum requirements as content presented by a teacher.

If a presenter is not listed on the Teaching Sexual Health website, a teacher must go through an approval process to ensure they meet district expectations before inviting that presenter into the classroom.

MORE INFORMATION

If you would like to know more about how sexual health is taught in your child’s school, ask the teacher or principal. The following resources can also help you understand what your child is learning, and how sexual health is taught at Edmonton Public Schools.

The Teaching Sexual Health Website

The Teaching Sexual Health website is a resource for both teachers and parents. It was developed by Alberta educators and health professionals. 

  • Alberta curriculum outcomes for sexual health for Grades 4–12
  • information on all aspects of sexuality
  • tips on talking to your child about sexuality
  • links to other resources for more information

A Guide for Teaching Sexual Health Education

To help teachers and schools teach the sexual health curriculum, Edmonton Public Schools has developed A Guide for Teaching Sexual Health Education Grades 4-12. All district schools follow this guide.

The Guide includes:

  • Edmonton Public Schools Board of Trustees’ Policy on Wellness of Students and Staff 
  • Sexual Health Guidelines for Edmonton Public Schools
  • examples of the letters used to notify parents, and to request exemptions for students
  • a checklist for teachers to use when evaluating guest speakers and other resources