Since 2001, sex ed has not been a compulsory subject in our schools. Young Quebecers get their information on this topic in different ways. Some attend conferences; others speak with their parents or surf the web to get answers to their questions.
By Mélina Soucy
“Sexuality is still a taboo subject among young people,” says Audrey, a Secondary 4 student at the Polyvalente des Deux-Montagnes. “We don’t hear it talked about enough to be at ease with the subject. I think that courses on sexuality should be brought back to the schools to reassure children, and to educate them.”
The 28 students, aged around 16, in history teacher Sylvie Richer’s class are open to discussing sexuality. But they remain ill at ease with the subject. Only about a dozen of them participate actively in the discussion. The others submitted their opinions in writing.
“Quebecers have a very paradoxical relationship with sexuality,” says sex therapist Annie Caron.
“On the one hand, there are a lot of taboos and embarrassment about subjects like sexual violence or female masturbation. On the other hand, sexuality is trivialized. We’re more exposed to it than ever. But we still dream of exclusivity, and of love.”
According to the sex therapist, young people don’t have any place to critically reflect, and sex ed should be reintroduced to the schools. “Young people are obliged to do their own research to answer their questions. They have to work through information they get from the internet themselves. There’s a need.”
This need for space to reflect shows itself in students’ written stories. “We should get sex ed courses, because many young people are searching for their identity, and they feel obliged to hop into bed too fast, younger and younger,” Camille writes.