Notifying Parents and Guardians
Section 58.1(1) of the Education Act (formerly the School Act) requires notifying parents/guardians when providing instruction that deals primarily and explicitly with human sexuality. They must be notified in writing prior to the start of human sexuality instruction and have the right to exempt their child, without academic penalty, from all or a portion of human sexuality instruction.
This section refers to courses of study, educational programs or instructional materials, or instruction or exercises, that deal primarily and explicitly with human sexuality, including the learning outcomes in the K-6 Physical Education and Wellness, 7-9 Health and Life Skills or CALM curricula that are boldfaced and italicized. This section does not apply to incidental or indirect references to human sexuality in a course of study, educational program, instruction or exercises or in the use of instructional materials. For example, if a student asks what masturbation means because they read the word in a novel in Language Arts class, the teacher can answer the question with all students regardless of who might be opted out of sexual health lessons.
Most schools have a template letter that can be used. This letter should have clear options for parents/guardians to choose from such as:
- I want my child to participate in the entire human sexuality education section of the curriculum.
- I want my child to take part in the human sexuality education section of the curriculum but not the presentation being given by organization X.
- My child is not to take part in the human sexuality education section of the curriculum. My child must leave the room while the human sexuality education is being taught.
- My child is not to take part in the entire human sexuality education section of the curriculum. My child can stay in the room while the human sexuality education is being taught.
Schools are required to provide alternative learning experiences for those students who have been exempted from human sexuality instruction by their parents/guardians. Contact your school administration for details specific to your school and school district.
Involving Parents and Guardians
Although most parents/guardians are in favour of children participating in sexual health education, it’s important that they know, and can be involved, in the delivery of the program. This helps to clear up any misconceptions about the content and goals of the curriculum outcomes. It also lets them give their input and offer support.
Some ways to involve parents/guardians:
- Send a school approved letter home that describes what will be taught, including presentations and presenters.
- Share lesson plans and curriculum outcomes.
- Encourage parents/guardians to meet you in person to discuss any concerns.
- Refer them to the Parent Portal of this website. Here they can get more information about the curriculum, parent-specific information about healthy development, sexual health and their role in sexual health education
If a Parent or Guardian Wants to Watch a Class
Teachers are not obligated to honour parental requests to observe classes. The teacher should speak with the school administration or the Alberta Teachers’ Association for more guidance.