Education / Health / Politics / Sex

Ontario’s Sexual Education Conundrum: How well do we know our bodies?

Ontario Sex Ed

Let’s talk about sex: We adults know it’s a hot topic; we make a big deal about it every day. From advertisements, to magazine covers, to politics, our lives revolve around sex. It is, after all, how we ended up in existence. So why is it that so many parents are protesting Kathleen Wynne’s new sexual education revamp for Ontario?

Here’s the thing (or rather, here is one of many things) – I work as a nurse on a unit that specializes in neurosurgery and traumatic injury. Despite the fact that my role is centered on the provision of care to patients with brain tumours, traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, and gunshot wounds, one of my most frequent conversations with patients involves that of female anatomy. It comes up all too often with our female patients who are unable to urinate as a result of spinal cord injury, the medications they are taking, or being fresh from post-op often require the insertion of a temporary catheter in order to empty the bladder so as to avoid nasty complications such as urinary tract infections.

The younger female patients (I’m talking young women in their late teens and twenties) have asked me on multiple occasions whether the insertion of a catheter will interfere with their virginity status (the answer is of course no, it absolutely will not).

Recently, I was setting up my sterile field and placing lubricant on the catheter when a 19-year old patient joked that it was “just like sex.” My reply: “Um. No. Not like sex at all.” When I explained that the hole we ladies use to urinate is completely separate from the one we use for intercourse, she could hardly believe her ears (and she is unfortunately not the first to be blown away by this fact).

Ontario sex ed cirriculum

In other words, we may soon be asking our six year olds
to teach us about our anatomy.

My point is: our sexual education curriculum has clearly failed us at some point if so many young women from all different walks of life remain utterly unfamiliar with their own anatomy. I have a feeling that the parents who are protesting the new sexual education curriculum are confusing the notion of sexual education with that of sensual education. If kids are not provided with the facts early on, how can they be expected to develop the confidence to ask questions and find the answers to such important questions as, how many holes do I have down there? The majority of my own sexual education probably came from Cosmopolitan magazine during my impressionable middle-school years, and while I cannot say that the magazine empowered me to develop confidence regarding my own choices and practices, it did do a more honest job of discussing sex than any of my grade school teachers abiding by an out-dated curriculum could have.

Children are curious beings, and they are resourceful when it comes to finding answers. It should be all of our jobs, as responsible adults, to ensure that kids and teenagers have access to reliable and safe answers.

Ontario sex ed

Mommy! Did you know that Young Canadians have the highest reported rates of sexually transmitted infections?! Yikes!

Ontario’s new sexual education curriculum should be taken for what it is: an educational program. It is not a Tupperware party or sexual liberation workshop; it exists for the purpose of dispersing important and coveted knowledge that will better prepare them for access to safe and healthy practices down the line.

Sex is not going to go away. Cosmopolitan magazine covers in grocery store line-ups will not magically disappear. While I appreciate that Cosmo helped to fill in some of the gaps in my education, I sincerely hope that my future children can have these gaps filled in the classroom by reputable sources rather than learning it from articles with such titles as “8 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Sex Life” and the “How to Get an Ex Back”. Kids need to be provided with the entire picture in order to properly understand the importance of consent, sexual orientation and identity, and the basics of anatomy. Our best defense to ensure a healthy future is to equip our children with the bare facts.

One thought on “Ontario’s Sexual Education Conundrum: How well do we know our bodies?

  1. Pingback: Women of #Elxn42: Jenni Byrne | Elle Beaver

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