• James Armstrong

Sexual education in the digital age at Collège Bourget

For teachers Jolaine Lessard and Karine Riley at the privately owned and operated Collège Bourget in Rigaud, it was time for their students to have access to an up-to-date sexuality course. It was a case of taking the bull by the horns and building a program based on the guidelines provided by the Ministère de l’ Éducation et Enseignement Supérieure du Québec.

Titled Apprentissage en education à la sexualité (Sexuality Education), the course Lessard and Riley created is produced and published in digital format.

An interactive program

“It took us a full year to create the two books,” Lessard told The Journal on Tuesday, May 1. The college gave Lessard and Riley time away from their teaching duties allowing them to work on the project.

“The first book is Secondary Level I and II, and the second book is for Secondary Level III,IV, and V,” said Lessard. That translates into Book One for students of ages 12 to 14 and Book Two for those in the 14 to 17 year old age group.

Lessard described the digital publication as easily accessible for students through their tablets and personal computers.

“It’s highly interactive with videos, questionnaires, quizzes and links to more information,” said Lessard. Currently, the program is being introduced to a few classes.

“Next year, the books will be available to all of the students,” she said. When asked if the program would be available outside of Collège Bourget, Lessard said that was a possibility being considered.

Parental involvement

Lessard was a registered sexologist during the time she worked on developing the program with Riley. “I’m no longer registered but continuing my studies in that area,” she said. Sexologists are researchers that study sexuality and offer counselling services to people facing sexual issues, According to the web site of the Ordre professionnel des sexologues du Québec (OPSQ).

As for Riley, “She’s the computer whiz,” said Lessard with a laugh. According to Lessard, the development process included consultations with parents of the students in conjunction with the school’s parent committee.

Topics and issues

The program deals with many topics related to sexuality including love, sexual violence and aggression, the meaning of giving consent, body image, interpersonal relationships and sexual orientation.

“The questions students may have about being bisexual or homosexual are all part of the program,” said Lessard. “There are many, many references to information published on the internet,” she said adding that included information and support for LGBTQ+ issues.

As for sexually transmitted diseases, she said the course provides information on their symptoms, how to protect against contracting them and the risks associated with being sexually active.

“Students also have access to a nurse at the College if they have any concerns or questions,” said Lessard.

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