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Westmount High promotes healthy relationships through sexuality education

Westmount High promotes healthy relationships through sexuality education
Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Much like English Language Arts, mathematics and science, sexuality education plays a prominent role in Westmount High School’s curriculum. 

The English Montreal School Board high school has developed a multi-pronged Sexuality Education Plan in consultation with teachers, staff and the school’s Governing Board and in accordance with a mandate issued by the Ministry of Education. The workshops, totalling over 60 hours from Secondary 1 to 5, are led by teachers, behaviour technicians, the school nurse or, at times, via outside community resources. 

“The Quebec Sexuality Education Plan, when properly implemented, can make a large impact on students’ relationships with themselves and others.” said Samantha Page Smith, Spiritual and Community Animator at Westmount High. “It’s put together really well, and it is nice having the school’s support.” 

Smith leads the Emotional & Romantic Life as well as the Identity, Stereotypes and Roles, and Social Norms workshops for all six groups of Secondary 3 students during their English and physical education classes, respectively. 

“In the Healthy Relationships workshop, we start by comparing and discussing what makes a healthy, unhealthy or abusive relationship,” said Smith. “We continue by reflecting on how each of us expresses and receives love in different ways - and not just with romantic partners, but with friends and family members as well.” 

The topic of breakups is also a popular one amongst students. “For teenagers, your first breakup can be very intense,” said Smith. “And I love that the workshop doesn’t just focus on being in a healthy relationship but also addresses how to end a relationship in a healthy way, including where and when to seek help from other adults in their life when needed.” 

Smith, who has been giving these workshops for four years, says the workshops often strike a chord with students.

Despite a few students who don’t take it seriously and a few giggles along the way, Smith said students seem mostly grateful to be able to discuss the topic. “I’ve had students tell me that the workshops sometimes make them rethink their current relationship and consider whether it is unhealthy or abusive,” said Smith.