Edmonton Catholic school trustee says gaps in sex-ed classes could be putting students at risk

Edmonton Catholic school trustee says gaps in sex-ed classes could be putting students at risk

Marilyn Bergstra knows the motion she plans to bring forward Tuesday at the Edmonton Catholic School Board meeting will be controversial and ruffle some feathers.“I don’t want it to be,” she said from her home Friday morning. “I simply want our students protected.”Bergstra is calling for a revamp of the province’s sexual education curriculum, and is hoping her fellow trustees will lobby with her. Story continues below

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“This isn’t about promoting promiscuity,” Bergstra said.“I would hope our students, when armed with the facts, would make the best decision for themselves, but we have to be realistic.”Bergstra, who is working on her master’s degree in public health, pointed to a spike of sexually transmitted infections in our city.Data from Alberta Health Services from 2015 showed an increase in both chlamydia and gonorrhea cases for males and females aged 15 to 19.WATCH MORE: Syphilis and gonorrhea on the rise in AlbertaBergstra said there are inconsistencies across Alberta; some teachers go into detail and others gloss over parts of the curriculum.She also said many current classes do not help students who identify as LGBTQ.“The curriculum is approached based on the assumption that everyone is heterosexual.”Minister of Education David Eggen said every aspect of the K-12 curriculum is currently under review, including sexual health. The last upgrade was in 2002, and changes to the Human Sexuality programming for high school students will likely take four to six years.He would not say exactly what changes could be coming.“There is a strong desire to have sexual health and education rooted in safety and in public health concerns,” Eggen said.READ MORE: Drug-resistant STIs mean ‘if you don’t wrap it up, you’re in trouble’ Bergstra wants all publicly funded schools in Alberta to focus on sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy prevention, stating a message of abstinence-only doesn’t work.“We live in the real world, we don’t get to choose what diseases are out there.”

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