Heteronormativity in Quebec’s Sex Education Curriculum

Topics: Homosexuality, Education, Sexual orientation Pages: 5 (1639 words) Published: September 21, 2013
Antoinette Gentile: 260537380
EDEC 248: Multicultural Education
Professor Donna Lee Smith
Teaching Assistant: Sarah Mustafa-Kamel
McGill University
April 16th, 2013

Heteronormativity in Quebec’s Sex Education Curriculum

The idea of incorporating sex education into the school curriculum has generally been considered a controversial issue in terms of what material should be included and what material should be disregarded. It is essential that we as teachers address sexual diversity in sex education so that we can encourage all of our students to be accepting of others, regardless of his or her sexual preference. Heterosexism is present in many high school sex education curriculums and my argument focuses specifically on how homosexuality is lacking in Quebec’s curriculum. Heterosexism as defined by Buston and Hart (2001) is the belief that heterosexuality is the only natural form of sexuality. Although Buston and Hart (2001) are basing their conclusions on their observations of Scottish sexual education, their concepts also apply to Quebec schools. In this paper, I intend to argue that the sex education curriculum in Quebec is heteronormative and that it lacks social justice for all students. The Quebec education program states three goals for the instruction of sex education: construction of identity, construction of worldview, and empowerment (Duquet, 2003). The problem with helping students construct their identity in a sex education class is that some students may be limited to what their teacher tells them. High school students are highly influenced by their teachers. If the teacher chooses to ignore homosexuality altogether in his or her instruction, the students will then have no choice but to identify themselves with one of the existing sexual orientations that their teacher has taught them. This identity formation is extremely heterosexist. It is critical for teachers who instruct sex education to also include viewpoints that they may not agree with because if for example, a student notices their teacher feeling uncomfortable when referring to homosexuals, the student will not feel like they can question, contribute or possibly ever admit to being homosexual. I strongly believe that sex education should be taught from a neutral source to ensure that the main goal in teaching sex education is to promote social justice and diversity. A way for this to happen could be to introduce biological sex education in school. I trust from the age of 7, albeit age-appropriate, as it is extraordinary what children can invent when they consider the concept. As a future teacher I would perhaps starts with the mechanics of sex, before delving into the possible types of sexual relationships that someone can experience, like that students are aware of the implications of sex. Once I have spoken about the mechanics, only then would I introduce the different types of relationships one could encounter. I would then move onto the types of protection involved for all types of sexual relationships. This isn’t necessarily the “right” way, although I feel that this could be an improvement. In order for Quebec’s high school sex education classes to achieve a level of social justice for all students, the content and material included in the curriculum should not be heterosexist. For example, a common heterosexist topic in sex education is the instructional method of how to put on a condom. Therefore, the teacher is assuming that intercourse takes place between a man and a woman as or between at least one man and another partner (Buston & Hart, 2001). Keeping this in mind, we can see that the teacher fails to consider the alternative, being that condoms are not needed for two women to be having sexual intercourse. This teacher’s method of sex education instruction is heterosexist due to the fact that they are simply implying that sexual intercourse occurs between two heterosexual human beings.

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Cited: Airton, L. (2009). From sexuality (gender) to gender (sexuality): The aims of anti-homophobia education. Sex Education, 9(2), 129-139.
Bellini, C. (2012). The pink lesson plan: Addressing the emotional needs of gay and lesbian students in Canadian teacher education programs. Journal of LGBT youth, 9(4), 373-396.
Buston, K., & Hart, G. (2001). Heterosexism and homophobia in Scottish school sex education: Exploring the nature of the problem. Journal of Adolescence, 24, 95-109.
Duquet, F. (2003). Sex Education in the Context of Education Reform. Retrieved from http://www.learnquebec.ca/en/content/curriculum/sex_education/teachers.html
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