Saskatchewan suspends Planned Parenthood from school presentations

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Regina’s Planned Parenthood says it’s sorry that a non-approved resource wound up in the hands of a Lumsden High School student, however, the organization is disappointed in how the Ministry of Education is handling the matter.

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A controversy, created after a resource graphically describing sexually explicit acts made its way into the hands of a parent, prompted Minister of Education Dustin Duncan to suspend Planned Parenthood from presenting in schools Thursday.

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“I believe, as Minister of Education (and) frankly, as a parent, it is completely inappropriate to be in a classroom,” Duncan said of the material in question.

Duncan said a review would be done of school materials and in the process of informing parents about what children are learning in classrooms. He vowed to review “all ministry documents as it relates to resources and curriculum related to health and wellness classes to ensure that they are indeed age appropriate.”

Duncan said the suspension was not indefinite and while there was only a week left in school the reviews he ordered would take place over the scholastic summer break.

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“I don’t think that this precludes them from, in the future, being a part of delivering resources and information into the classroom,” said Duncan.

On Thursday, Regina’s Planned Parenthood said the sexual education resource was not part of its recent presentation to Lumsden High School students.

“A resource the school did not approve ended up in the hands of a student,” the non-profit said in a statement Friday.

“Regina’s Planned Parenthood apologizes for the difficult position that our Prairie Valley School Division partners have been put in as a result of this incident.”

Planned Parenthood Regina’s executive director, Julian Wotherspoon described the third-party material as a “tongue-in-cheek” sexual alphabet that was brought into the school but was not being presented to students.

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The cards, explained Wotherspoon, were never meant to be handed out or given to students.

“It wasn’t ever a tool that we use in schools,” she said. “It has nothing to do with the presentation that we were doing but it is a resource that we carry at Planned Parenthood.”

Provincial NDP leader Carla Beck said although she has not seen the material she feels it is reasonable to say it is not age appropriate. However, banning Planned Parenthood and conducting these reviews is an overcorrection.

“I think it’s overreach for the Minister to pull Planned Parenthood teaching from all schools,” said Beck on Friday.

Alluding to the ongoing controversy surrounding the Legacy Christian Academy in Saskatoon Beck said the reaction to this current education controversy was far quicker.

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“I think it’s in stark contrast to what happened when we saw allegations of very serious abuse in some of the private schools, for example,” she said.

Asked if she felt the speed of the response was due to pressure from the political right of the province. Beck said “if this government is going to act more quickly, it’s often an issue that is important to a certain base.”

The leader of the Opposition added that there is a need to teach students about matters surrounding STIs, pregnancy and more considering the high rates of teen pregnancy, HIV and STIs in Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan United Party Leader Nadine Wilson said in a press release that Duncan failed to offer an apology to the students and teachers.

Wilson said the suspension of Planned Parenthood “is a step in the right direction” but said the government had “failed to protect children.”

Planned Parenthood in the province has initiated a review of material that will be taken to schools and other locations as part of lessons and teaching courses.

On Friday, Wotherspoon said there had been no attempt from the government to reach out to discuss the educational material presented to the students or “what steps we have taken to ensure the safety and well-being of our community.”

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