I am very excited to get back into research mode and present my thesis work at the Support of Physical and Health Educators (OASPHE) conference (http://www.oasphe.ca/home.php?a=welcome). See my poster presentation below!
There has been some push back with the Grade 6 Human Development and Sexual Health curriculum. It is assumed that the topic of "masturbation" is discussed explicitly and even encouraged. This is not the case. The curriculum expectation in Grade 6 reads:
"Describe how they can build confidence and lay a foundation for healthy relationships by acquiring a clearer understanding of the physical, social, and emotional changes that occur during adolescence (e.g., physical: voice changes, skin changes, body growth; social: changing social relationships, increasing influence of peers; emotional: increased intensity of feelings, new interest in relationships with boys or girls, confusion and questions about changes)"
However, there is mention of "masturbation" in the teacher prompt, which acts as a guide to help teachers discuss the mandatory curriculum expectation. The prompt reads:
“Things like wet dreams or vaginal lubrication are normal and happen as a result of physical changes with puberty. Exploring one’s body by touching or masturbating is something that many people do and find pleasurable. It is common and is not harmful and is one way of learning about your body.”
I have my own interpretation of this teacher prompt. Puberty is marked by a (difficult and sometimes uncomfortable) time of change. Body pains and aches may begin, and the body undergoes rapid and unexpected changes. A way in which to better understand one's own body is to physically examine what is changing and how it makes them feel. This prompt is by no means encouraging students to engage in sexual behaviour, but rather acknowledges that it is perfectly normal to do so.
We need to start normalizing sexual health as it is a hugely important part of development and identity.
What you need to know about changes to Ontario’s Health and Physical Education curriculum, including Human Development and Sexual Health (sex education).
The Ontario Ministry of Education released a comprehensive review of the 2015 Sexual Health Education curriculum from Grades 1 to 12. They broke down the specific expectations and described the overall themes and topics covered in each grade.
What is in the Health and Physical Education curriculum? Active Living
Educating children with accurate and current information, skills and strategies to help them navigate a digital world can help keep them safe and healthy.
The Human Development and Sexual Health (sex education) component of the Health and Physical Education curriculum guides teachers to plan what they teach with the goal of establishing a foundation of mutual respect and understanding for diverse perspectives in the classroom. It will not replace the role of parents in educating their children about sexual health.
What will students learn in the Human Development and Sexual Health (sex education) section of the curriculum?The learning about Human Development and Sexual Health, like all the learning about healthy living in the curriculum, is focused on helping students learn about the things that contribute to their health and how to use that information to make healthy choices (and avoid potentially harmful ones) in their everyday lives.
Some of the information students will learn about this topic includes:
Grade 1 Students will learn:
Grade 2 Students will learn :
Grade 3 Students will learn:
Grade 4 Students will learn:
Today, children enter puberty earlier: on average, girls enter puberty between 8-13 years old and boys enter puberty between 9-14 years old.
Grade 5 Students will learn:
Grade 6 Students will learn:
By Grade 6, students have developed some self awareness and coping skills and also learned critical thinking and reflective skills to solve problems and examine issues, which they will apply to learning about stereotypes and assumptions.
Through challenging these stereotypes and assumptions, they not only continue to learn respect for others, but also self-confidence in their own identity.
Grade 7 Students will learn:
Teaching about sexual health and development does not increase sexual behaviour, and can actually prevent risky activity.
Grade 8 Students will learn about:
Grades 9-12 Students are required to take one Health and Physical Education credit in high school. However, they may choose to continue to take additional course in other grades. These courses build on learning from Grades 1-8. See below for what students will learn in the in the Human Development and Sexual Health component of those courses.
Grade 9 Students will learn about:
Students also learn about the potential implications of online activities (e.g., texting and sending personal photos) and how to use electronic technologies appropriately.
Grade 10 Students will learn:
Grade 11 Students will learn:
There are many misconceptions about Ontario's 2015 Sexual Health Education curricula, especially for Grades 1-8. I have read dozens upon dozens of articles about the new curricula, I have seen newscasts about the new curricula, I have talked to parents, teachers, and principals - and most of what I hear is inaccurate.
I came across an amazing resource developed by People For Education that clarified a lot of the erroneous beliefs about the new curricula. You can check out the link below or open the file attached.