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Sex ed should include consent, identity and porn, says Kristen Gilbert

02/06/2015 04:47 EST | Updated 04/08/2015 05:59 EDT
A new documentary, Sex(Ed): The Movie, screening at the DOXA Documentary Film Festival in Richmond, B.C. on Friday night, is getting people talking about sex — and all the shades of awkwardness that come with sex education.

When it comes to educating kids about sex, adults turn to a myriad of bumbling methods: rolling a condom over a banana, showing textbook images of the reproductive system and droning on about sexually transmitted infections.

"From parents, I get a lot of requests for help on how to open up that conversation with the young people in their lives," Kristen Gilbert, with the Vancouver organization Options for Sexual Health, told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff. 

"[From kids], I get a lot of 'Am I normal'? questions."

Talking about anatomy and disease prevention only scratches the surface of sex education, particularly at a time when access to sex online, in film and in pictures has never been easier.

Gilbert says it's important to offer comprehensive sex education that covers everything from names of body parts to consent, and plans to examine that in a panel discussion after the screening of Sex(Ed): The Movie on Friday.

Watch a trailer for Sex(Ed): The Movie on Vimeo

While many of us will remember the typically embarrassing sex ed classes of our youth, Gilbert says sex education has evolved over the years:

Preventing abuse at a younger age

"In kindergarten, we tell kids the scientific names of their body parts, that's a standard part of the curriculum," said Gilbert.

"And they learn a little bit about abuse prevention...who to go to for support and the most important thing at that age is learning about who the 'askable' adults are in their life."

Puberty, consent and desire

"We talk about the range of information that people need to know about their bodies and about puberty...but also about how to consent, how to talk to the people that you love about your body and what you desire and decision-making."

'Acrobatic' porn is not real life

"There's a great moment in the film when one of the characters says he learned about sex from porn, so he thought that sex was always marvellous and acrobatic and crazy," Gilbert said.

"So our job as educators and as parents is to make sure that young people know that when they have access to those images, they should know that's not what actually sex is really like."

Sex(Ed): The Movie is screening this Friday at 7 p.m. PT, at the DOXA Documentary Film Festival at the Richmond Cultural Centre Performance Hall. The movie is classified 14A.

The screening will be followed by a discussion with Gilbert, along with Lucas Wilson, LGBTQ Youth Worker at QMUNITY, B.C.'s Queer Resource Centre.

Tickets are $12 or $10 for students and seniors.

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