Roles of the School and the Family

Every adult who plays a significant role in the life of a child or an adolescent has a role to play in sexuality education. This includes parents and members of the school staff.

Parents can continue the discussion begun in school by talking to their children about the different content covered in class. 

The complementary nature of the roles played by the school and the family reinforces and optimizes their respective contributions to young people.

Parents or guardians

Sexuality education begins at home. This is where children first become aware of different ways of living and expressing themselves, and where they learn to:

  • understand themselves
  • interact with different people
  • receive and express affection, love and empathy

Parents can play an active role in the education of their children while respecting their values and taking their personalities into account. To do so, they can: 

  • create a relationship of trust that allows their children to ask the questions that are of concern to them
  • seek out the information and support they need, in particular by participating in information sessions and drawing on the resources of the school or its partners, including the health care system

Parents act as models and influence their children’s attitudes and behaviours. They are in a position to fulfill their role in sexuality education in a straightforward and honest manner. 

The school

In addition to providing instruction and qualifications, the school is a social environment where students interact and have many opportunities to learn how to live in society: friendships, romantic relationships, egalitarian relationships.

When they reach puberty, some young people may prefer to discuss sexuality with their friends or with trusted adults at school, rather than with their parents.

Some parents may even feel embarrassed and have difficulty broaching the subject of sexuality with their children.

Events related to students’ sexuality occur on a daily basis in schools. Here are a few examples:

  • Wassim, a kindergarten student who has just welcomed a little brother, asks his teacher questions about where babies come from.
  • Maude tells her daycare educator that a student pulled his pants down in front of the other students.
  • Justin, an Elementary 2 student, is in love. He asks his teacher if he can have two girlfriends.
  • In a science and technology class, Florence asks the teacher how old a girl has to be to start taking the pill.
  • Gustavo, a teacher, intervenes with two students who are making homophobic comments.

Situations such as these highlight the need for sexuality education and require that school staff intervene on a daily basis. Providing staff members with qualifications equips them to answer questions and to respond to situations by using the most appropriate educational approach (reassure, encourage reflection, provide information, reframe), according to need, and to provide accurate, quality information.

School principal and staff

The Education Act stipulates that the school principal must formulate an annual planning for sexuality education in conjunction with other school staff (when, how and who will provide the content to students).

The school notifies the parents before any interventions in sexuality education take place.

The governing board

The curriculum plan for the compulsory  content in sexuality education must be approved by the school’s governing board, in accordance with section 85 of the Education Act.

The school board

It is the responsibility of the school principal, together with school staff, to determine who will provide sexuality education content.

The school board provides training to the schools, making use of the training, support and tools made available to it by the Ministère.

The health and social services system

The school may call on professionals from the health and social services system, such as school nurses. It can also use the services of community agencies with expertise in specific areas (e.g. prevention of discrimination based on sexual and gender diversity and prevention of sexual assault).

These partners are encouraged to work closely with school staff.