Seventeen-year-old Emily Dawson was shocked by what she heard during the sex-ed unit of her high school's Career and Life Management class, a mandatory course for graduation.
"She did a lot of slut-shaming to the women, and pointed out the guys as horn-dogs," Emily Dawson, now an 18-year-old graduate, told her Canadian hometown newspaper, the Edmonton Journal.
The course was taught by Edmonton's anti-abortion Pregnancy Care Centre and, according to Dawson's account, taught that 60 percent of boys carry the HPV virus under their fingernails and that gonorrhea can kill people in three days.
When the school wouldn't accept her mother's request to excuse her from the second day of the unit, Dawson took her frustration to the Alberta Human Rights Commission — and convinced her school to drop the class, at least temporarily.
Dawson challenged the sex education class in April as a violation of Alberta's Human Rights Act, which, among other things, requires that parents have the right to exempt their children from sex education classes. Perhaps somewhat ironically, that exemption right was created in the first place to, as the Edmonton Journal puts it, "placate social conservatives upset but the addition of sexual orientation to Alberta's human rights code."
Under pressure from Dawson and others, the Edmonton Public School Board told teachers this week they're to no longer use the Pregnancy Care Centre's curriculum for sex-education. Still, she and her mother don't consider it a complete victory. The Edmonton Public School Board has said that the curriculum was "scientifically-sound" and meets educational standards. It's only being dropped, the board wrote in a Friday Facebook post, due to "concerns expressed from the public" and will be re-visited in the fall.
Dawson will continue to pursue the complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission, too, as she and her mother look for a more permanent change to the district's sex-ed curriculum.