Managing Sensitive Issues

Always consult your local school district for specific regulations relevant for your school board. Information provided as a guide only.

What do students do if parents opt them out of human sexuality instruction?

  • Schools must provide alternate learning experiences for students who have been exempted from human sexuality instruction by their parents in compliance with prescribed programs of study.

What are the obligations for informing parents?

  • Parents must be advised prior to the start of human sexuality instruction of their right to exempt their child from this course component.
  • Parent meetings are strongly encouraged and decisions regarding these should be made in consultation with your principal.

What if parents want to observe classes?

  • When receiving such a request, carefully consider the purpose of the visit and whether or not a parents’ presence would impede student discussion of sensitive topics. Interested parents would need to arrange this visit in advance with the teacher(s) and principal. Teachers are not obligated to honour parental requests to observe classes and may obtain further guidance from the ATA.

What do I do if I receive calls from angry parents?

  • Listen carefully and respond as best you can. If parents are angry and unwilling to listen, refer them to your school administration.

What does a teacher do with a multi-graded class?

  • As with other subject areas, schools will need to make the best decision for learning based on student needs and community interests.

What if a student asks a question (often done through the question box) that is beyond the outcomes of the grade level being taught?

  • Assess whether the question is related to information, feelings or values and how closely it does fit with grade level outcomes.
  • Questions relating to values can be identified as such. As values and beliefs vary from family to family, students can be encouraged to discuss these types of questions with family members.
  • Acknowledge varying feelings that arise with various questions.
  • Depending on the curriculum relevance, background of student(s) and age appropriateness of the question, respond to factual questions in the most simple and straightforward way possible.
  • As with other subject areas, teachers will need to make the best decision for learning based on student needs, grade level taught and community interests.
  • Click here for valuable, relevant information regarding responding to student questions.

What if…?

A student discloses assault/abuse:

If a child discloses to a teacher or a teacher suspects child abuse (emotional, physical, sexual, neglect or a child witnessing violence) inform your principal or senior administrative staff to determine who will contact Alberta Children and Youth Services. The person who receives the disclosure and/or identifies signs and symptoms of abuse is legally responsible for ensuring that the information is reported to Alberta Children and Youth Services. Reporting does not require the consent of administration.

  • School personnel are not required to prove that the student is in need of protective services, nor probe for details. This is the role of the Alberta Children and Youth Services worker.
  • Provide a safe and supportive environment for the child and do not contact the student’s family.

What if…?

A student discloses confidential information or is asking about such issues as pregnancy, STI, sexual orientation or referral to a community agency?

  • As these are very sensitive health topics, please handle with care and respect the student’s right to confidentiality.
  • Be sensitive to the particular circumstances of the situation, including such aspects as the age, developmental level and cultural background of the individual.
  • Be careful not to impose your personal values.
  • Teachers are expected to take an appropriate course of action depending on the particular circumstances of the situation. Options may be to assist or advise a student to talk to a non-judgemental guidance counsellor, the school health nurse, parents, family doctor or Alberta Health Services. All referrals through Alberta Health Services are kept strictly confidential.