Skip to content

Human Development & Sexual Health

Schools have a unique opportunity to positively influence students through educating, role modeling, and creating healthy and supportive learning environments.

The promotion of sexual health in schools is best achieved by:

Understanding Sexual Health Concepts

  • Allocating sufficient classroom time to teaching the topic.
  • Using the Information Behaviour Motivation (IBM) model.
  • Engaging students in planning and delivering of information (Hart’s Ladder).
  • Encouraging the role of peer education. Note: peer educators should be well-trained, carefully supervised and be aware of the differences between a supportive role and professional counselling.
  • Sexual health education is linked to other relevant curricular objectives and age-appropriate learning outcomes.
  • Consistently offering education from the beginning of elementary school to the end of secondary school.
  • Presenting information in an age-appropriate manner in a safe, caring, inclusive, and non-judgemental environment.
  • Helping students to focus on self-worth, respect, and dignity of the individual.
  • Providing education on: developmental changes (e.g. puberty), rewarding interpersonal relationships, challenging of stereotypes, prevention of STI/HIV, effective contraception methods, sexual assault/coercion, sexual orientation, gender identity, evolving gender roles and expectations.

Making Sexual Healthy Choices

  • Specifically targeting the behaviours that lead to negative sexual health outcomes (e.g. STI/HIV infection, unintended pregnancy).
  • Teaching critical media skills to interpret and assess the sexual imagery on the internet and to differentiate between credible and problematic sources of information.
  • Supporting informed decision making by providing students with the knowledge, personal insight, motivation, and behavioural skills that are consistent with each individual’s personal values and choices.

Making Connections for Sexual Healthy Living

  • Providing opportunities for students to practice sexual limit setting, condom use negotiation, and other communication and decision making skills.
  • Addressing the impact that behaviours and actions have on others (e.g. concept of consent).
  • Combining sexual health education with access to clinical services, counselling and social services and support from family, peers and the community.

Resources to support implementation can be found in the sections below. Educators may also contact their School’s Public Health Nurse for additional support and consultation.

Classroom Resources

OPHEA’s Lesson Plans – H&PE Elementary Resources (Grade 2)

Understanding Stages of Development. Lesson plan:

  • Oral Health Eggsperiment

Using hardboiled eggs, teacher demonstrates how shell of egg acts similarly to enamel when placed in various beverages.

OPHEA’s Lesson Plans – H&PE Elementary Resources (Grade 3)

Making Healthy Choices. Lesson plan:

  • Oral Health Healthy Choices for Healthy Teeth

Links importance of good oral health to overall health and effects of different food choices.

What’s Your Plan? (Grades 7–12)

A reproductive life plan is taking into consideration your priorities, goals, values, and personal health when planning whether or not to become sexually active, have children and when might be the right time for you.

Resources cover what you can do to stay healthy in terms of lifestyle choices (such as nutrition, alcohol, tobacco, and substance use), birth control, STI testing, sexual health clinics, and mental health referrals.

My Life My Plan (Grades 7–12)

Teachers could use this workbook as a class assignment. It will help teens think about how the decisions they make today impacts their health now and in the future. Topics covered in the booklet include: My Self; My Health; My Mental Health; My Relationships; My Reproductive Health; The realities of a teen pregnancy; My Family Health History; My Future; My Plan; and My Personal Resources.

Hand Hygiene – Be a Germ Stopper Teacher Resource Manual (Peel 2007) (JK–Grade 6)

Contact your School’s Public Health Nurse to obtain a copy.

Teacher Resource Manual with lesson plans and activities for each grade that emphasize why it is important to stop the spread of germs. Lessons on what germs are, how they spread, how we can stop the spread.

Hand Hygiene – The Dirt on Germs Video (JK–Grade 12)

This 4 minute video from Eastern Ontario Health Unit is part of a series of fun, educational videos about the importance of hand hygiene. It was created for use in elementary and high schools.

A Tool for Every Teacher (JK–Grade 8)

Contact your School’s Public Health Nurse for a staff training.

This resource, along with staff training, provides evidence based information to help you have a positive impact on student’s physical activity, healthy eating, body image and self-esteem. Tips in this resource focus on role modeling, teaching and creating a supportive school environment.

There’s Nothing Better than a Good Friend (Grade 6 and Up)

This lesson focuses on the issues young people face surrounding friendships during adolescence. This topic is important because while friendships are vital throughout life, peer groups and social relations among friends gain increasing importance during puberty and adolescence.

Responsible and Healthy Relationships (Grade 6 and Up)

This lesson focuses on the issues young people face surrounding dating relationships. The topic is important because these relationships gain increasing importance during adolescence and provide teens with the groundwork for relationship building into adulthood.

Teaching Puberty: You Can Do It! (Grades 4–6)

This resource was designed to support teachers when they are introducing topics such as menstruation, puberty, and sexuality. By approaching these topics from a health perspective, this curriculum support document becomes part of health literacy.

Teaching Puberty: You Can Do It! – Training Videos for Teachers (Grades 4–6)

A series of videos developed by Toronto Public Health to prepare teaching grade 4–6 puberty classes.

Sexual Health Lesson Plans (Grades 7–8)

These lesson plans are designed to support teachers when they are introducing the Growth and Development expectations of the Ontario Ministry of Education.

Please note that some of the information in this document has changed as follows:

  • The new guidelines state that PAP testing (cervical cytology screening) should be initiated at 21 years of age for women who are or have ever been sexually active. This includes intercourse, as well as digital or oral sexual activity involving the genital area with a partner of either gender.
  • Women who are not sexually active by age 21 should delay cervical cancer screening until sexually active. If cytology is normal, screening should be done every 3 years.
  • HPV immunization will be offered to all male and female Grade 7 students. Starting in 2017 students will be immunized with Gardasil 9.
  • The testing for the STI Chlamydia in males and females is completed using urine.
  • The Withdrawal Method of Birth Control is not a reliable method for young people.

Sexual Health Lesson Plans (Grades 9–12)

This resource contains 4 modules that can be used by any high school teacher dealing with sexuality issues. They are designed to be used as a support and guide, can be used individually or in any combination to suit the needs of your students.

Please note that some information in this document has changed as follows:

  • The new guidelines state that PAP testing (cervical cytology screening) should be initiated at 21 years of age for women who are or have ever been sexually active. This includes intercourse, as well as digital or oral sexual activity involving the genital area with a partner of either gender.
  • Women who are not sexually active by age 21 should delay cervical cancer screening until sexually active. If cytology is normal, screening should be done every 3 years.
  • HPV immunization will be offered to all male and female Grade 7 students. Starting in 2017 students will be immunized with Gardasil 9.
  • The testing for the STI Chlamydia in males and females is completed using urine.
  • The Withdrawal Method of Birth Control is not a reliable method for young people.

Consent – TeachingSexualHealth.ca (Grades 5–8)

This site covers some important points to understand and discuss with your students about consent, sexual assault, consent and the law, and how to respond to a sexual assault disclosure

Understanding Consent – Video (Grades 6–12)

This video from teachingsexualhealth.ca outlines what consent is, what it looks like, and how you get consent.

Consent (Part 1) (Grade 9)

This lesson plan contains numerous activities for students to achieve the following outcomes: determine “safer” sex practices (e.g., communicate with partner ); develop strategies that address factors to prevent or reduce sexual risk; analyze, evaluate and refine personal communication patterns; describe and analyze factors that contribute to the development of unhealthy relationships; develop strategies to deal with unhealthy relationships.

Consent (Part 2) (Grade 9)

This lesson plan contains numerous activities for students to achieve the following outcomes: evaluate implications and consequences of sexual assault on a victim and those associated with that victim; determine “safer” sex practices (e.g., communicate with partner); develop strategies that address factors to prevent or reduce sexual risk; analyze, evaluate and refine personal communication patterns; describe and analyze factors that contribute to the development of unhealthy relationships; develop strategies to deal with unhealthy relationships.

Birth Control Options (Grades 8–12)

This slide presentation from teachingsexualhealth.ca outlines birth control and birth control options.

Male Condom Demonstration – Video (Grades 7–12)

This video from teachingsexualhealth.ca illustrates the steps to follow for proper use of the male condom.

Vaginal Condom Demonstration – Video (Grades 7–12)

This video from teachingsexualhealth.ca illustrates the steps to follow for proper use of the vaginal condom.

Dental Dam/Latex Barrier Demonstration – Video (Grades 7–12)

This video from teachingsexualhealth.ca illustrates the steps to follow for proper use of the dental dam/latex barrier.

Sexual Health Clinics (Grades 9–12)

We provide youth friendly and non-judgemental services to people of all ages, genders and sexual orientations. The services provided are strictly CONFIDENTIAL. You do not need an appointment or a referral to visit our clinic. All Clinics are drop-in.

Sexual Health Clinic Tours – In-person and Virtual (Grades 9–12)

Contact your School’s Public Health Nurse to arrange a tour.

The Health Unit welcomes in-person class tours of our sexual health clinics. As well, virtual tours are available.

Sexual Health Question & Answer Session (Grades 5–12)

Contact your School’s Public Health Nurse for more information.

Sexual Health Question and Answer session can be arranged for your class.

Student Leadership Starts with You! Facilitator’s Workbook (Grades 5–12)

Contact your School’s Public Health Nurse for local resources.

This tool is a practical guide to engaging students in authentic leadership opportunities. It offers a simple to follow 6 step process and provides template activities, resources and evaluation tools.

*Please note that this resource was designed by Peel Public Health and some of the referenced resources may not be applicable to our area.

Questions and Answers: Sexual Health Education in the Schools

This document is designed to support the provision of high quality sexual health education in Canadian schools. It provides answers to some of the most common questions that parents, communities, educators, program planners, school and health administrators, and governments may have about sexual health education in the schools.

Questions and Answers: Sexual Orientation in Schools

This resource is targeted at helping curriculum and program planners, educators (in and out of school settings), administrators, policy-makers, and health care professionals implement the current Health and Physical Education Curriculum (2010).

Questions and Answers: Gender Identity in Schools

This Questions and Answers resource is targeted at helping educators (in and out of school settings), curriculum and program planners, school administrators, policy-makers and health professionals implement the Health and Physical Education Ontario Curriculum.

Questions and Answers: Sexual Health Education for Youth with Physical Disabilities

The purpose of this document is to provide answers to some of the most common questions that professionals may have about providing sexual health education to school-aged youth with physical disabilities.

Trans and Nonbinary Youth Inclusivity in Sexual Health

Guidelines for Sexual Health Service Providers and Educators: These guidelines are intended for sexual health service providers and educators who want to better include trans and nonbinary youth in their work. The intent is for this document to help providers and educators feel more knowledgeable about trans identities, so that youth can access services and education that accurately reflect their experiences.

Care for Kids

Care for Kids was originally created by our Health Unit, as a health-based early childhood healthy sexuality and abuse prevention curriculum. Children in this age group are receptive to learning about body parts, health and boundaries, making this an ideal time to lay the foundation for abuse prevention. Care for Kids contains 6 units: Asking for Help, Feelings, Bodies, Babies, Asking for Permission and Wrap-Up. Each unit teaches and reinforces 2 to 4 simple, age-appropriate messages via a circle time, a book, and an activity or craft. The activities are designed to complement the fact that children of this age group learn naturally through play and use schemas to assimilate new information. Information is presented in a matter-of-fact way using anatomically correct language.

  • How to Access the Care for Kids Program: Since 1996, the State of Vermont has used the Care for Kids curriculum in childcare facilities, schools, and home visitor settings. Since 2000, Prevent Child Abuse Vermont (PCAVT) has been the American Distributor for the curriculum. Since 2015, PCAVT has been the sole proprietor for the Care for Kids program nationally and internationally. PCAVT is committed to maintaining and updating the curriculum. Please contact PCAVT if you have any questions regarding the Care for Kids program. pcavt@pcavt.org or 1-802-229-5724.

Triple P Parenting

A positive parenting program that gives parents simple tips to help manage the big and small problems of family life. Triple P Parenting can help with parenting questions from 0–16 years of age around topics such as sleep, self-esteem, not listening, aggression, family conflict – and many more! For support in  Lanark, Leeds & Grenville, call 1-800-660-5853 and ask about Triple P or visit www.triplep-parenting.ca.

A Parent’s Guide: Human Development and Sexual Health in the Health and Physical Education Curriculum (Grades 1–6)

This guide provides information about: the knowledge and skills related to human development and sexual health that are included in the curriculum and taught by teachers; ideas about how parents can work in partnership with schools to support their children’s learning.

Quick Facts for Parents, Learning about Healthy Relationships and Consent

This fact sheet provides parents with: information about what consent means, what students learn at school about healthy relationships and consent, and how to talk to their children about consent.

Talking to Your Kids About Sexting

This tip sheet for parents outlines characteristics of a healthy relationship, sending sexts, and forwarding sexts.

Quick Facts for Parents

This fact sheet provides information on online safety including the risks of sexting.

A Tool for Every Parent

This resource provides evidence based information to help parents have a positive impact on their child’s physical activity, healthy eating, body image and self-esteem. Tips in this resource address how to use language, behaviour and role modeling to create a home environment that supports positive Healthy Behaviour. Consider contacting your School’s Public Health Nurse to set up a parent training.

For more information, visit our Sexual Health and Healthy Pregnancy webpages.