Your Values

Before teaching human sexuality, it is important to be familiar with your own beliefs and biases. Be sure you are clear about your beliefs relative to those of your students. This exercise will help you build personal knowledge that will influence your teaching style and result in increased comfort and understanding in the Sexual Health classroom. There is no “perfect” way to approach sexuality education. This exercise is meant to provide further insight into some topics. You are not expected to know all the answers, but need to know where to get the answers.

Instructions: Please think about each statement and how you feel about what it says. Click on the question to find what the research has to say.

Teaching sexuality is the responsibility of parents.

Parents and guardians are a primary and important source of sexual health education for young people. They lay the foundation for attitude, moral and value formation. However, 72% of boys and 66% of girl’s say they first learn about sex from someone other than their parents. Canadian youth have stated that friends, siblings, and media sources are the most common sources of sexual health information. Survey results consistently show that Canadian parents and students want schools to provide Sexual Health Education. Schools can be a primary vehicle for ensuring that young people have access to consistent, accurate and up to date sexual health education as one component of a comprehensive sexuality education program.


Myths and Facts

Sexual Health Education

Discussing Sexuality With Your Child (Parent Portal)

I am conscious of my own sexual attitudes and beliefs when discussing sexual behaviour with students.

A teacher’s values and beliefs influence teaching style. Examining your own values and beliefs about sexual health education before addressing students is an essential part of teaching sensitive issues.


Assumptions to avoid:

  • All students come from traditional nuclear families
  • All students are heterosexual
  • All students are sexually involved
  • All students are not sexually involved
  • All students’ sexual involvement is consensual
  • All students who are sexually active are having intercourse
  • All students have the same knowledge base
  • All students have the same cultural and religious beliefs

The more a child knows about sex, the more he/she is likely to experiment.

Comprehensive sexuality education programs are designed to give young people the skills to make responsible sexual decisions. According to a major global study published by the World Health Organization, programs that teach young people about contraception and safer sex do not lead to earlier onset or higher frequency of intercourse. In fact, programs that teach about both abstinence and safer sex can help young people to postpone having intercourse. Evaluations of comprehensive sexual health education programs have led to the conclusion that they result in postponement of first sexual intercourse, decreases in the number of partners, and significant increases in condom use.


Myths and Facts

Sexual Health Education

I will lose credibility if I don't know all the answers to questions asked in my class or if I am uncomfortable with some sexuality issues.

Sexuality can be a difficult topic for anyone to discuss. Acknowledging your own awkwardness can make everyone feel more comfortable. Knowing where to look for information is an important part of feeling comfortable. If you feel you are unable to comprehensively teach a difficult subject because of ethical, moral or religious differences, you might consider involving someone else to help teach this topic. If you are unsure about a question, be sure to find the correct answer and get back to the students. No one knows all the answers.


Community Agencies

Responding to Student Questions

Examples of Student Questions

Health risks relating to early sexual activity are scare tactics and should not be used by educators.

Building on the protective factors that make a student more resilient is the most effective way to achieve sexual health. Scare tactics only draw attention to the issue in the short term. In the long term, healthy sexual behaviour is achieved through effective education focused on skill development, taking action, role model identification and reinforcement for the positive behaviour.


Sexual Health Education

Instructional Methods

I am apprehensive about raising certain sexuality topics in the classroom.

Sexual Health Education must address and acknowledge the diverse needs of all students. It is important for sexual health educators to provide comprehensive Sexual Health Education that is both culturally appropriate and reflects different social situations. Talking about facts rather than values is an effective way to reduce apprehension.


Sexual Health Education

Myths and Facts

Responding to Student Questions

I feel I can personally make a difference in helping my students make responsible choices regarding their sexuality.

Sexual Health Education can provide children, adolescents and young adults with some of the knowledge and skills they need to make and act upon decisions that will promote sexual health. Teachers play a key role in delivering comprehensive programs designed to promote sexual health.


Sexual Health Education

All questions that students put into the Question Box should be answered.

Feedback needs to be complete, accurate and appropriate to the age and developmental stage of the students. It is important to consider every question to be a valid question. To facilitate the question box, you may choose to group common questions together, to respectfully acknowledge that a question is confusing or off topic, and to defer questions that relate to future course content.


Responding to Student Questions

Examples of Student Questions

Community health professionals are better prepared than I am to present portions of human growth and development education programs.

Alberta Education mandates teachers to teach Sexual Health Education. It is the teacher’s responsibility to ensure the provincial curriculum learning objectives are met. When involving community resources, a teacher must maintain involvement in all aspects of the program/presentation including appropriate pre and post session learning activities.


Curriculum and Guidelines

Community Agencies

I am comfortable hearing the slang terms that are used in talking about sexuality.

It is important to establish ground rules related to vocabulary at the beginning, and to encourage students to phrase questions and comments as best they can. If slang is used in place of correct vocabulary, rewording the question using the correct word is an effective technique.


Ground Rules

Appropriate diagrams of sexual anatomy need to be included at all grade levels.

Students at all levels require basic, accurate information about sexuality and sexual anatomy. Sexual anatomy comprises just one of the body systems. Teaching sexual anatomy addresses the whole student, and helps the student develop the ability to view the changes that occur during puberty as normal. Children need to learn the correct names of all their body parts so that they can communicate their questions and concerns.


Myths and Facts

Sex vs. Sexuality

What is the difference between the two?

Sex: Sex refers to the biological characteristics that define humans as female or male. While these sets of biological characteristics are not mutually exclusive, as there are individuals who possess both, they tend to differentiate humans as males and females. In general use in many languages, the term sex is often used to mean “sexual activity”, but for technical purposes in the context of sexuality and sexual health discussions, the above definition is preferred.

WHO. (2002). Defining sexual health. Report of a technical consultation on sexual health. World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland. Retrieved from

Sexuality: The World Health Organization (2004) defines sexuality as a central aspect of being human throughout life and encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviour, practices, roles and relationships. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, ethical, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors.


Sexuality is not just sexual intercourse or sexual activity. Sexuality has to do with:

  • being female or male, and how females and males are alike and different in the way they look and act;
  • how we view our bodies and our relationships with each other;
  • how we grow and change over the years;
  • who we are as women and men (girls and boys); and
  • how we reproduce.