Cathy Sanders was shocked by the graphic sexual images her son brought home in a booklet from his Grade 8 class at Wellington Secondary School.
As part of a new district policy to make better use of time during exam week, the school offered students classes in personal health and planning this year.
AIDS Vancouver Island has provided some course materials for a number of years.
The booklet Put on Something Sexy shows a woman putting a condom on a man, then having sex with him when the pages are flipped rapidly.
Sanders’ son showed his mother immediately when he got home from school.
“I was disgusted that he would be given something like that,” Sanders said.
She contacted school administrators, who said they understand her concern. School officials say they took steps to ensure materials used in the classes are age appropriate, but somehow unsuitable materials slipped through onto display tables used by students.
The boy received the flip-book on Jan. 31 as a prize in a sexual health class, one of three rotating sessions that also covered Internet safety and anti-bullying. “There was at least one outside presenter on sexual health,” said Donna Reimer, Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district spokeswoman.
“AIDS Vancouver Island had material they put on the table that students could pick up, if they wish.”
Reimer said when an administrator spotted oral sex pamphlets, they were ordered removed from the display.
“At least two of the three groups would have had access to them,” Reimer said.
The school district wrote a letter of apology to parents, specifically in reference to the pamphlet that explained what oral sex is and how it’s performed, which the vice-principal noticed. But Sanders said the pamphlet, which appeared similar to a medical publication, was less offensive than the flip book.
“I want to know what the (school district) guidelines are and I want materials checked before it goes into classrooms, by principals and the school district,” Sanders said.
That message appears to have reached educators.
Since then the school has contacted AIDS Vancouver Island with a request to review all material to be given to students. Reimer said it’s “too soon to say” whether the school district will continue to use AIDS Vancouver Island for future sex education.
“The district will be reviewing what happened before making a decision about future steps,” Reimer said by email.
“We will also take a look at any implications this may have for procedures district wide regarding outside presenters and the materials they distribute to students.”
AIDS Vancouver Island defends its use of materials for teaching purposes.
“We believe straightforward, non-judgmental information provided to youth, in a context with a facilitator, in a context that speaks to abstinence, is important,” said Eric Brendt, AIDS Vancouver Island spokesman.
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