Okanagan Skaha plots course for sex education

School district plans to outsource some components of sex education to compensate for teacher's departure

School district administrators are deep in the planning process to outsource some components of sex education to compensate for a resident expert’s departure.

During its budget deliberations last spring, the board of the Okanagan Skaha School District elected not to replace its family life teacher, who retired in June. That teacher was responsible for delivering sections of sex education to students throughout the district.

Now it will be up to school principals to figure out how to deliver the key messages contained in government-prescribed learning outcomes concerning sexual health for Grades 6 to 10, be it through teachers, counsellors or outside help. Classes below Grade 6 are covered by an existing program, while there are no such outcomes for Grades 11 and 12, according to Don MacIntyre, the district’s director of instruction.

He told a meeting of the school board’s education committee on Tuesday that he will help with the transition by connecting principals to community resources.

“By the time we close for winter break, we should have a plan in the hands of our administrators so that they know which resources and which agencies they can access in terms of providing the support they feel they need,” MacIntyre said.

“After that, what they choose to do will be no different than how they choose to deliver other types of curriculum.”

MacIntyre noted there are “not really that many” learning outcomes involving sexual health for Grades 6-10 and is confident there will be enough time to meet them between January and the end of the school year.

B.C.’s curriculum for Grade 9 students, for example, mentions only teaching practices that promote healthy sexual decision-making and assessing the long-term consequences of unsafe sex.

Trustee Linda Beaven asked MacIntyre if he has “any concerns about the consistency and the commitment” of different schools to deliver sex education, to which he replied no.

“Not anymore than I would have for any other curriculum or content that we’re responsible for,” MacIntyre said.