Sexuality education in primary and secondary schools

Sexuality education in primary and secondary schools : How to discuss gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation?

Conference given by Julie Pelletier

Version française

Julie Pelletier is part of the team working on creating the new sexuality education program for primary and secondary schools in Quebec. In Quebec, sexuality education has been offered in schools for over 40 years. Now, they have developed a pilot program that they are presently testing out in 17 schools across Quebec.

Here’s how it will work

The schools will have to provide with 5 to 15 hours of sexuality education per year. The program will be from kindergarten to secondary 5. However, each grade level will be taught the different themes in a different manner and according to their age and developmental abilities. Furthermore, some grade levels don’t have some themes.

There will be 9 different themes:

  1. Sexual growth and body image
  2. Identity, gender stereotypes and roles, and social norms
  3. Emotional and romantic life
  4. Sexual assault
  5. Pregnancy and birth
  6. General understanding of sexuality
  7. Sexual activity
  8. Sexual violence
  9. STI’s and pregnancy

These are the objectives of this program


  • Broaden their conception of gender roles that may be performed by boys and girls beyond the stereotypes and promote respect for differences.
  • Promote egalitarian relationships by promoting awareness of the impact of stereotype messages conveyed in the social environment towards boys and girls.
  • Contribute to reduce the attitudes and sexist and homophobic behaviours by developing empathy for those who are victims.
  • Develop a better understanding of the manifestations of sexual awakening and reassure the variability in experiencing the feelings attached to it.


  • To reflect on their identity, the limiting aspect of traditional conceptions of masculinity and femininity on interpersonal relationships and sexual behaviour.
  • Addressing the positive or negative influence of certain social norms of peer groups with regard to sexual expression.
  • Educate students in the interest of engaging in relationships that correspond with their goal in other areas of their lives in order to get an overall personal satisfaction.
  • Support the development of self-awareness in order to increase their ability to make decisions about their wishes and needs.

For more information on the new sexuality education program, visit the Education, Enseignement Superieur et Recherche website. Here you can find the actual pilot program.

If you’d like more information, you can also visit the website of La table nationale de lutte contre l’homophobie et la transphobie des reseaux de l’education. It will give you access to the English and French resources from this year’s seminar. You have access to folders, guides, literature, teaching materials, policies, legislation and action plans, research as well as multimedia resources! 🙂

To read more on all of the seminar’s conferences, click here for the main article!