Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality

STD Teaching in High Schools

Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality

STD Teaching in High Schools

Article excerpt


In the 1970s sexuality programs were promoted in Toronto-area high schools. AIDS awareness programs were mandated by the school boards in the late 1980s and the Health Department responded with numerous AIDS education sessions. At this time it became evident that there were large gaps in the students' knowledge about other STDs. Based on written evaluations and verbal comments from students, we recognized a need for more STD teaching. As well, many teachers had expressed frustration in delivering STD education due to their lack of current knowledge and inability to relate theory to practice.


In order to be invited into the classroom, STD Public Health Nurses (PHNs) needed to "sell" their expertise to the school PHN and classroom teachers.

The first step in our approach was to provide STD updates to District PHNs, especially those in high schools. Our aim was to get them excited about our STD program so they would promote it in their schools.

A flyer describing the classroom program was developed and distributed to the appropriate teachers by the school PHN. After the school was introduced to the STD PHNs' role, lunch time displays were used to network with students and staff. Our new interactive "Sex Game" was developed as a means of introducing the students to STDs in a fun, non-threatening manner. This game allowed students to place magnetized STD germs on a male and female body. Students were then engaged in discussions about the risks and means of prevention of STDs. It was during this time in the school, that the STD PHNs would contact the Biology and Phys. Ed. department heads.

The programs we have developed support the Grade 11 Biology curriculum sections on "STD, Bacteria and Viruses," as well as the Grades 9, 10, 11 and even 12 Health curricula. Although our focus is predominantly on biology and health classes, more teachers are asking the STD PHNs to give sessions in life skills, parenting and psychology courses.

Classes vary in length from 45 to 75 minutes and include the "Components of Sexual Health Education" outlined in the Canadian Guidelines for Sexual Health Education (Health Canada, 1994). …

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