The Sex Ed You Never Got In High School

Women’s Studies Hosts Panel, Makes Plea for Alt Sex Ed

From left to right, Alex McKenzie (panelist), Valerie Webber (panelist), Valerie Clayman (WSSA), Ana Alvarado (panelist), Hector Villeda-Martinez (WSSA). Photo Julia Jones

The average sex education curriculum is incomplete.

The current scope of issues and ideas covered in conventional sex education classes needs to be expanded beyond the confines of heteronormative relationships, says Hector Villeda-Martinez, VP Communications for the Women’s Studies Student Association.

On Nov. 21, the WSSA hosted “The Queer Sex Ed You Never Got in High School,” a speakers panel at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute.

“We need a panel such as this to dispel myths and to start an inclusive conversation about sex, sexuality and health that is sorely lacking,” said Villeda-Martinez.

“Let’s be frank, here: just because some queers have access to community outreach programs and Women’s Studies programs—that does not mean that all queers do,” he said. “Queer people are everywhere, really, and [many of them] are deprived of these kinds of conversations.”

The trio of panelists was made up of former AIDS Community Care Montreal volunteer Valerie Webber; Ana Alvarado of Action Santé Travesties et Transsexuelles du Québec; and Alex McKenzie, sexology student and intern for the queer youth advocacy organization Project 10.

In 2005, an education reform was passed that knocked sexual education out of the hands of health specialists and into those of math, science and social studies teachers.

“In regards to sex education in general, there’s a giant lack in our education system right now,” said McKenzie.
Webber hoped the panel would attract young people who were seeking to fill gaps left over from their previous sex education.

She said while lack of education is problematic, the way sex is currently thought about and talked about in schools is detrimental.

“It’s too short, it’s too biomedical, it’s too heteronormative,” said Webber. “It doesn’t focus on the issues of consent and other things that play into how safe people can be.”

She said that without proper deconstruction of terminology, individuals who aren’t already alienated by the heteronormative and presumptuous notions about what sex is become detached from the issues.

“We need to start educating people regarding sexuality and the diversity that exists,” said Villeda-Martinez.
“Thus far, notions and education regarding sexuality are predominantly one-sided—a man has sex with a woman in order to make babies.”

Villeda-Martinez said that questions asked about queer sexuality and health are integral to the way we learn about and understand each other.

“Queer sex ed has to be all-inclusive because we recognize that sexuality is fluid and therefore our partners could be trans, bi, questioning.”

McKenzie said that the queer aspect was really what was missing from his primary school sex education—adding that if sex education is reinstated in the province it will likely materialize into a curriculum that is heteronormative.

“Everything that I learned in regards to being a gay man and having homosexual relationships I learned on the go—as I was growing up from my own relationships,” he said.