McNally High School in Edmonton, Canada provided students with an abstinence-only sex education workshop that rubbed 18-year-old Emily Dawson the wrong way — to the point of her filing a human rights complaint over it.
The complaint states that the class, which is taught by the Edmonton Pregnancy Care Centre at McNally, taught false information about contraception, sexually-transmitted diseases, and sex in general. The class also tried to convince students to abstain from sex completely. The Alberta Human Rights Commission accepted the complaint, filed by both Dawson and her mother, Kathy.
“It was based on value-based teachings, instead of scientific fact,” Emily Dawson told CBC News. “They basically said that condoms were ineffective and they did not at all talk about the combined methods to protect ourselves during sexual intercourse.” She said this was all “highly disappointing.”
In a Facebook post, the Edmonton Public Schools Board stated:
I took immediate steps to look into the Pregnancy Care Centre’s presentation on sex ed. I had staff members, one of whom was a registered nurse, attend and observe the presentation unannounced. They found that the presentation met our standards and expectations on every level — information was presented in a scientifically-sound way… Having said that, we’ve heard a lot of concerns expressed from the public over the last several days about guest speakers invited to present on the topic of sexual health education… We are asking our schools in the fall to use different presenters so that we can continue this conversation, and focus on meeting the needs of students and parents.”
However, the Edmonton Pregnancy Care Centre (PCC) sees the situation differently. Executive director Norah Kennedy says it’s “fear-based.” She told CBC News: “I think that an individual who decides she’s going to just go after something can cause fear to happen.” Both Edmonton’s PCC and the Calgary PCC are associated with Care-Net, a Christian group that is anti-abortion. “While we have a faith background, the religious part does not come up in the public school or education,” Jutta Wittmeier, director of the Calgary PCC, said. “That’s just not part of the program, it’s science- and research-based.”
According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 82 percent of teen pregnancies are unplanned or premature. That could possibly be attributed to a lack of sexual health education in the U.S., with up to 40 percent of teenagers not using condoms during sex, according to a CDC survey done in 2013. Up to half of the 19 million new STD cases, meanwhile, occur in young people aged 15-24 years old.