The Globe's Hannah Sung spoke to three Toronto Grade 8 students about their experience with Ontario's current sex-ed curriculum and their views on the proposed new one. Two of them, Tessa Hill and Lia Valente, met Premier Kathleen Wynne last month to discuss teaching about consent.
[What we have learned so far] mostly focuses on abstinence and about all the dangers of sex, and how the only way that they can be prevented is by not having sex. [The curriculum] doesn't really talk about how there is healthy sex and there are healthy ways to have sex and there are ways to prevent unhealthy sex. …
– Sapphire Newman-Fogel, 13
I don't even think I learned proper things about genitalia or puberty at an early enough age before I started puberty. … I don't remember having any proper health classes other than learning about nutrition and how to brush your teeth properly until Grade 6, when we had one class where we split the two genders and my teacher just said this is what your period is and this is what happens during puberty, and that was the only thing I remember. Personally, I don't think it came at the right time.
– Tessa Hill, 14
It's kind of weird that we live in a culture where sex is … this whispered word that's laughed about and giggled about and nobody really knows about it. I think what needs to happen in September when the curriculum is brought to teachers is that teachers need to step outside their comfort zone. They need to be willing to talk about sex and have these conversations about consent that are really important. The curriculum will definitely work if teachers are willing to do that. That's what all of us are hoping for.
– Lia Valente, 13
These interviews have been condensed and edited.