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Planned Parenthood apologizes for 'ABC sex cards' distribution, disappointed with suspension from Sask. schools

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Planned Parenthood has been suspended from running programs in Saskatchewan schools after “ABC sex cards” were made available to Grade 9 students.

On Friday, the organization apologized and said it was disappointed with the decision, adding it was not contacted before the suspension was enacted.

The cards were offered to the students as a secondary resource during a sexual health class at Lumsden High School.

“While the presentation itself was aligned with the Saskatchewan curriculum, the presenter brought a secondary resource which was not. This secondary resource, consisting of an A to Z sexual vocabulary, was inappropriate for students,” the school division told CTV News in an email.

“It was not referred to in the actual presentation but was available at a side table after the presentation.”

The school division said one student picked up the cards.

Education minister Dustin Duncan announced Thursday that Planned Parenthood would not be permitted to be in schools due to the nature of the content.

“I have directed and will be directing boards of education and administration to suspend for the time being the work in schools of Planned Parenthood as it relates to their involvement in health and wellness courses.”

Duncan said the news upset him as a minister and as a parent.

“It’s completely inappropriate to be in a classroom and has no part of being in a classroom.”

Planned Parenthood Regina had a display that included a deck of cards with graphic sexual content that was made available to Grade 9 students. (Photo source: Catie)

He said he has issued a directive to review the role of Planned Parenthood in Saskatchewan schools.

“I want to make sure that the Ministry of Education also is undertaking a review of our own information to ensure that it is appropriate and age-appropriate in particular,” he added.

He said Planned Parenthood did not see what the problem was with the content.

“My understanding is the feedback from people that have called my office to say that they have contacted Planned Parenthood and Planned Parenthood didn't have an issue or didn't see what the issue was with this material,” Duncan said.

“Anybody that's going into a school needs to be a lot more careful than that to ensure that the information they just happen to be bringing along from their office is appropriate.”

CTV News reached out to Planned Parenthood Regina but did not hear back.

Duncan said they expect to have further clarity by September.

“I don’t think this precludes them from in the future being a part of delivering resources and information into the classroom just at this point.”

The school division said they followed up with families of students who attended the session and they contacted the organization to ask them to remove the resource from future school presentations.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD 'NOT CONTACTED BEFORE SUSPENSION'

In a statement released to the media on Friday, Planned Parenthood Regina said it is disappointed with Duncan’s decision to suspend them from Saskatchewan schools without contacting them beforehand.

According to Planned Parenthood, the suspension was done without first contacting them to learn about their educational programming, the intent behind the resources provided and what steps have been taken to ensure the safety and well-being of the community.

The material in question was not approved by the school and “ended up in the hands of a student.”

“As part of our education and outreach programs, we also bring along secondary materials targeted to address specific questions that youth may have about sex, sexuality, and their health. At this visit, a resource the school did not approve ended up in the hands of a student,” the statement reads.

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

Planned Parenthood said it is looking forward to “connecting” with Duncan about sexual education, its own programs that provide education and the importance of “full spectrum, evidence-based and engaging health education in Saskatchewan schools.”

"In our discussions with Prairie Valley School Division, we’ve had no problem letting them know that we will just remove that from the kit for future interactions,” said Julian Wotherspoon, executive director of Planned Parenthood.

For now, Planned Parenthood Regina says it will continue to carry comprehensive sexual health information in a wide variety of formats aimed to meet the needs of the people they serve.

They also will continue to work with educators to support bringing sexual health education to all communities.

NDP RESPONSE

The NDP Opposition agrees that the material was not age appropriate but feels the suspension is not warranted.

“This is a province that has some of the highest rates of STDs, STIs in the country and some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy. There is obviously the need to be teaching sexual health in schools,” said NDP leader Carla Beck.

Planned Parenthood believes it has a role to play in supporting curriculum outcomes. It plans to hold discussions with government with the hope of being back in the classroom for fall.

With files from Wayne Mantyka

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