No, sexuality as a concept is discussed starting in grade 4 (with the onset of puberty) but does not include discussions about sexual acts or practices. Secondary students need accurate information about relationships and safe sex. Lack of information can have significant consequences for youth health and emotional wellbeing.
When discussing gender, the conversations are largely about what people like to wear, the activities they engage in and how they feel about themselves. Gender is about self-identity. When students learn about the diversity found in gender, they have an opportunity to explore a greater range of interests, ideas and activities.
Aren’t elementary aged children too young to be talking about sexual orientation and gender identity? Why can’t you just teach about bullying instead of talking about sexual orientation and gender identity?
It’s important that all students feel safe and welcomed in school. In order to do that, it’s important that everyone has the opportunity to learn about each other and celebrate each other’s differences. Unfortunately, children are already learning homophobic and transphobic slurs starting in the primary years. The job of educators is to make schools safe by opposing all bullying and name calling.
Information and discussion will not make anyone gay or straight. No one decides to be gay or straight, it is not a “lifestyle choice”. As students grow older, some will identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. All of our students need to feel safe, welcome and positively reflected in the curriculum.
No, students have never been told this. Teachers have been asked to think about using more inclusive strategies for grouping students or speaking collectively about a class. For example, instead of saying “good morning boys and girls” a teacher may use a phrase such as “good morning students”. This allows for all students to feel included regardless of their gender identity.
No, students have never been told this.
The work that is being done in the district is the Ministry of Education’s curriculum, it is not unique to SD75, it is province-wide. This work has been mandated in both public and private school systems. SD75 is merely ensuring that the diversity that exists in school is reflected in the conversations in the classroom – there has been no addition to the curriculum. There is nothing overly new about this, a new subject area is not being introduced. Teachers have been teaching this curriculum for years, but there is an increasing awareness to be inclusive. It is important that these conversations are respectful and inclusive.
The Provincial Government has allowed for some flexibility in the delivery of certain ‘sensitive areas’ of the curriculum, specifically topics related to reproduction and sexuality that some students and their parents/guardians may feel more comfortable addressing by means other than instruction by a teacher in a regular classroom setting. These topics do
not include lessons and topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity, unless they relate to reproduction and sexuality.
Read the BC Government provided information about Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity here.
The best place to start is always with your child’s teacher. As with all areas of the curriculum, the classroom teacher is the most knowledgeable about the subjects being taught in individual classes. The school-based administrator can also be an excellent source of information.