Comprehensive sex education being taught in schools is among the demands protesters have been making after the deaths of Andrea Bharatt and Ashanti Riley. Their deaths sparked a conversation around consent, how men treat women and the need to educate boys and girls on sexual relations.
Newsday spoke to Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly at St James Secondary School after she toured four schools to ensure they were adequately safe for students, and asked what plans the ministry had for sex education.
She said, “Sex education is a big-ticket item for schools. It has been a matter of contention between the Ministry of Education at some point and the denominational school boards with respect to what should go into the sex education and what our children should be learning about sex, sexuality and sexual health in the schools.”
Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) is taught in schools but it is not explicitly sex education. “But it deals with family life and it deals with those kinds of issues. The extent to which sex education and and what exactly that constitutes, being taught in schools – that is a matter that will have to be discussed a lot more involving regional and denominational boards.”
If the Ministry of Education were to roll out sex education, Gadsby Dolly said, there would have to be a precise definition.
“We have to be very clear about what is taught and what is not taught, and that would need the express consultation with the denominational boards...There is the HFLE that is taught and it includes some aspects of family life. How that evolves, and if there is more about sex education to respond maybe to some of these kinds of issues, that is not a matter at this point that is in progress.”