Issue #1: Consent education for students

Many provinces have outdated consent education for students from primary schools through high schools. Integrating new content on consent from the early stages of elementary school, can help socialize these ideas from a young age, and tackle a root cause of the prevalence of gender-based violence amongst older demographics. When children are not adequately taught consent, or are taught stereotypes about women, this translates into how they perceive what they can do and how they can treat others. The content included in consent education from primary to post-secondary school widely differs amongst provinces and territories. However, in many provinces, consent education is limited and outdated.

Key Stakeholders

Affected Groups:

  • All students, in addition to communities with higher rates of gender based violence
  • Boys and men are an important part of this, as they are the majority of perpetrators of gender-based violence.
    • Education and socialization of boys and men is integral to proactively combating gender-based violence.

Decision Makers and Responsibilities:

  • Provincial and territorial ministers of education
  • Local school boards
  • Teachers’ unions
  • Provincial and territorial justice departments

Other Key Players:

  • Education advocates
  • School divisions and boards
  • Teachers
  • Canadian Federation of Students

Current Policies & Education Curriculums

As education curriculums are administered by provincial and territorial governments, there is a range of policies and strategies on this in Canada. Content, including the topics discussed, depends on province/territory, and can even vary depending on the school classroom.  

There is also different topics explored depending on the community in which a student attends school. For example, Catholic school curriculum has a strong emphasis on abstinence, whereas schools on reserves may include traditional teachings,.

Across Canada, consent curriculum is taught at the following levels:

K = Kindergarten

Number indicates grade, unless years is specified

Note: Quebec does not have a formal dedicated sexual education curriculum, opting instead to integrate this instruction into other subjects

Territories:

  • In Yukon, Sexual Health and Relationship Education occurs between grades 4 through 7. This includes education on health relationships and sex choices, clinics and community services, and use of contraceptives.
  • Nunavut’s Sexual Health Framework for Action 2012-2017 aims to promote healthy sexuality and combat forms of gender-based violence. Find more on this action plan here.
  • The Northwest Territories’ health sexual education program focuses on grade 9. For more information on this program, see here.

Who can make change?

gbv