Dec 1 World AIDS day

World AIDS Day is December 1, and to mark the occasion Montreal's Head & Hands will be offering a free anonymous HIV screening for youth from 5 - 9:30 pm this Tuesday. Youth will not be asked for their health card or name for the purposes of the screening, and the test results will not be included in the client's medical file.

The center in N.D.G. is a popular resource for young people who need information and support. When Quebec's formal sex education program was eliminated as a result of the curriculum reform Head & Hands created the Sense Project, which offers in-class workshops and peer education training to students from Montreal's high schools.

The change in Quebec's curriculum means that sex education is no longer a mandatory part of health education or the former personal and social development program, but is rather assumed to be taught by a number of teachers across a variety of courses such as English or science. While the new approach has its positive points, including a focus on family life and the emotional aspect of sexuality, there have been concerns that spreading the responsibility for sex education around may result in some students receiving little or no information.

Schools now receive no specific funding to bring in trained sex educators, and a significant number of teachers feel either unqualified to teach about sexuality, or are uncomfortable discussing sex. Schools are encouraged to cooperate with community groups like Head & Hands, in order to fill the gap. Parents who are unsure whether their children are receiving adequate sex education, should ask the school for more information. Many Montreal groups offer workshops and information kiosks. Parents can encourage their school to take advantage of these services.

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