The above statement is not an exaggeration.
On July 9th, 2019, Action Canada partnered with Saskatoon Sexual Health and Planned Parenthood Regina to stage an action asking the premiers of Canada’s provinces to take this issue of sexuality education seriously.
Saskatchewan leads the country in teen pregnancy rates. We have staggeringly high rates of domestic and partner violence. Our chlamydia rates for young women between 20-24 are 10x higher than the national average–for male youth in this age group, the rates are 6x higher. Saskatchewan also has provincial rates of HIV that are 2.5x higher than the national average, and transphobia and homophobia are alive and well.
Comprehensive sexual education is a preventative measure that can provide the people of our communities with invaluable information that helps prevent negative outcomes for sexual health while breaking patterns of abuse in unhealthy relationships. Creating inclusive curriculum that is representative of the challenges and experiences of multiple demographics is important if the groups not usually centred in conversations of sexuality and health are to be empowered, and an introduction of diversity in content can provide youth with the representation they need to confidently be themselves and explore their sexuality in safe and healthy ways.
Studies have shown that comprehensive sexuality education reduces the rates of teen pregnancy, delays the onset of sexual initiation, reduces the likelihood of sexual risk-taking behaviours, and reduces the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (UNESCO, 2018).
The evidence is clear: sex-ed saves lives, and the UN has declared the information a human right. Every person, no matter their orientation or background, has the right to receive this life saving information, to make healthier choices for themselves and their families, and to feel comfortable and celebrated in their sexuality and identity.