By Looky, Alexandra
Our Schools, Our Selves , Vol. 18, No. 2
As a young woman coming from Togo, sexual education in North America is what I find to be a privilege. This luxury however still lacks in various ways such as the approaches used in terms of the material, nature and content of the messages to convey as well as the origins, values and social norms of the authence these messages are destined to. I therefore would like to offer my opinion on how to approach this sensitive and challenging matter.
In terms of my background, I have been exposed to various cultures since I was a child and therefore, to varying views and methods when approaching/addressing the topics of sex education/sexual behavior and practices.
I received my sexual education in grade 8 (so I was 13) and at the time I was not yet a resident of Canada. I was living in my country of birth attending a French school. I am stressing the latter as I received my education modeled on that of France and not on that of the Togolese education system. To my knowledge, sex education is still not yet offered in public schools although Togo has come a long way in its HIV/AIDS campaign. Sex education back then just consisted of the biology of the reproductive systems (it was done in biology class and hardly lasted more than a couple of class sessions) and the contraceptive measures available.
When I moved in Canada, I received along with my housemates in boarding school in Quebec, a relatively similar sex education talk with the visual aid of a condom being rolled on a banana. Condoms were always available at the infirmary. The main problem, I quickly realized was that although the subject of STIs/STDs was broached mentioned, it was barely so done, all the focus remaining on ways to prevent teen pregnancies and HIV infections.
A lot of what I know about sexual health, STIs, I have learnt myself through personal curiosity. I quickly realized at an early age I was being limited. My identity implies I have been exposed to a different gender script and expected sexual conduct, being a woman, a black woman, and an African woman and coming from a world where women still have subservient positions whether it be in terms of rights or the set mentality. I personally also know a little more because of my science background.
As a consequence, I feel like I have to read every pamphlet I can get my hands on to really know about diseases. I am aware that those pamphlets are summarized and worded in laymen's terms for accessibility. Some pamphlets do a better job than others. I remember that at university, the pamphlets were more descriptive and straightforward and addressed a much larger variety of STIs.
I have therefore provided below my thoughts and contributions on how to approach sexual education, especially in Canada, which represents today a significant mixture of communities which social norms greatly differ from the Canadian white heterosexual man and woman.
* I am under the impression that ?G? is considered the extreme of STIs and therefore less attention is given to the other STIs. I believe it is important to put equal emphasis on all STIs and remind the reality of all those infections and consequences. STIs should not be regarded according to the availability of treatment but according to the damage it causes to our bodies and the eventual short and long term consequences. For example: although antibiotics are available to cure syphilis, it may not be treatable at if not treated in the first stages and eventually fatal while affecting the brain (and behavior) in the process.
* The average Canadian is still ignorant when it comes to sexual and reproductive health but is living in a country where countless resources are readily available. People, including teenagers, seem to be only obsessed with what is treatable and not treatable and the public health system often feeds that obsession. Get the facts straight. For example there is no cure for herpes, only treatment options are available once you are infected. …