Comprehensive Sexual Health and Human Development Education
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- Joshua Quisias (Western University)
- Vincent Tang (University of Toronto)
- Asia van Buuren (University of Toronto)
Sexual health can carry many definitions, each of which is informed by societal, community, and individual factors. Societal perceptions on sexual norms can influence what is considered "healthy". Even further, an individual's experiences with sexuality can develop a very personalized definition of being sexually healthy. Considering the many potential conceptualizations of sexual health and the effect of education on health outcomes, it is important that education on sexual health and human development (SHHD) is incorporated into curricula. Although education surrounding SHHD in primary and secondary schools is ubiquitous in North America, its quality and comprehensiveness in different settings remains heterogeneous. Though the implementation of a comprehensive SHHD curriculum is controversial, it is widely recommended. Research has shown that it is beneficial to prevent negative sexual health outcomes and promote positive ones. In the absence of comprehensive SHHD education, youth may use incorrect or incomplete information to make decisions regarding their sexual behaviours that can lead to negative health outcomes or prevent the achievement of positive outcomes.
- We recommend that the Ontario Government consider returning to the 2015 Health and Physical Education Curriculum, which included a comprehensive, accessible, and robust SHHD curriculum. This includes not only consideration of the topics to be included in the curriculum, but also an alignment of the biological and psychosocial developmental realities of students and Grades at which certain topics are taught.
- We recommend that medical associations under which sexual and reproductive health or human development fall under their purview advocate for the maintenance of the 2015 Health and Physical Education Curriculum.
- We recommend that medical schools in Ontario, from top-down, i.e. from school leadership to students, advocate in their communities for a comprehensive SHHD curriculum.