13 April 2021
School-based sexual health education plays a key role in providing young people with the information, motivation, and skills needed to enhance their sexual health. However, the extent and quality of sexual health education curricula varies across Canada. Though parents' support is often considered when making curricular decisions, there is limited data examining parental attitudes towards sexual health education across Canada. In the current study, we examined parental attitudes towards school-based sexual health education in a national sample of Canadian parents. Using an online survey, we examined overall support for the inclusion of sexual health education in schools, perceived quality of the sexual health education children received, assessed support for 33 sexual health education topics, and determined if parental support varied across geographic regions. Participants were 2,000 parents with children attending elementary or secondary school in Canada. The majority of parents (85%) agreed that sexual health education should be taught in the schools. Support was high across all regions in Canada, ranging from 82% in Ontario to 91% in the Atlantic provinces. However, significantly fewer parents in Ontario and Quebec supported school-based sexual health education compared to other regions. Overall, parents want a wide variety of topics included in school-based sexual health education and support the teaching of foundational topics in the early and middle school grades. The current study is the first to use a national sample to examine parents' attitudes towards sexual health education in schools. Results can inform provincial/territorial health education policies and national sexual health promotion strategies.
Wood, J., McKay, A., Wentland, J. & Byers, S. E. (2021). Attitudes towards sexual health education in schools: A national survey of parents in Canada. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality. https://doi.org/10.3138/cjhs.2020-0049
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