“Does anyone know what sex is?”

Giggles ensue at Lauren Hill Academy as sexual education consultant Jamie Quinn asks students the squirm-worthy question.

It’s a look at what’s to come as the new government-mandated sexual education program gets set to begin in January.

“We are going to be teaching sexuality education,” said Quinn, still addressing the class. “What does sexuality mean? Oooh… crickets.” 

Teachers and school employees, such as guidance counselors and nurses, are currently being briefed. Quinn works for the English Montreal School Board as the pedagogical consultant in sexual education.

She said the new sexual education curriculum focuses on everything from gender identity to sexual orientation, but will not include the mechanics. 

“It's really something that's simple. We're giving clear messages. It's just information that we're giving to the students,” she said, adding that it’s something they want.

“Every day, you hear it in the hallways. You hear it in the classrooms. They're asking – they’re curious – about how to deal with certain things, or how to approach something about relationships. So they want it and they need it,” she said.

The curriculum will be taught as early as Kindergarten and lessons will reflect the students’ maturity levels. 

“We'd be looking at things like stereotypes – so is it okay for a boy to play with a doll? Is it okay for a girl to play with a truck?” explained Quinn of the courses for younger students.

EMSB chair Angela Mancini said one goal is to help students accept themselves. 

“So people are comfortable with who they are, and I think at the end that's what we're looking for – to have citizens who are going to be comfortable with who they are and be comfortable in every sphere of their life,” she said. 

Students say social media is often their go-to for getting informed, and having a safe space to ask questions could help. 

“This is something that's happening in society and it's important for our students to understand the information and to be given the information, so students can understand it, bring it home and start the conversation,” said Vanessa Collao, a student at Lauren Hill. 

“If we implement it into high schools, then it's getting the word out, people will be talking about it, bringing it home, sharing with their relatives,” added another student, Alessia Romanelli. 

Mancini said she’s aware this could be a tough sell for some parents.

“I think we need to make sure that students have all the information and that we're working together as a team, whether it's the family and the school, to ensure the students have a better understanding of themselves and others,” she said.

Parents will see the curriculum next month and students will begin their first lessons after Christmas break.