Cuts will impact quality of sex education in Okanagan Skaha

School district eliminates position, leaving teachers to handle sex education

Sex education is going to suffer as a result of the school board’s decision to eliminate the program’s only teacher, a concerned parent told trustees Monday.

The Okanagan Skaha School District trimmed the position from its 2012-13 budget, so teachers and counsellors will deliver the so-called Family Life course content next year in Grades 4 and up.

Parent Erica McDowell told the school board Monday that kids will be less comfortable discussing sensitive subjects with teachers they see everyday. The certified education assistant also said she has spoken to teachers who told her they will be equally uncomfortable with the subject matter, which could impact the quality of sex education kids get.

“If someone’s up there nervous to answer those questions, well, then the kids are going to feel nervous about asking the questions,” McDowell said.

Okanagan Skaha Teachers’ Union president Kevin Epp agreed.

In a roomful of 13-year-olds, “probably the last thing you would want to say is ‘boob’ or ‘penis,’” said Epp, who added sex education is “probably best left to an expert.”

Superintendent Wendy Hyer acknowledged that “there is going to be an impact on the quality of the program, no doubt,” but added that she would work with administrators and Interior Health to make sure learning objectives are met.

Board chair Ginny Manning blamed familiar financial pressures for the loss of the position: “Our budget is getting down to the point where, sadly, some of these kinds of programs have been affected.”

The Family Life position would have been vacant at the end of the year anyway due to the retirement of teacher Brenda Kroschinsky, who did not respond to requests for comment.