Be True to You: a sexuality education program developed by a UQAM professor

FRENCH VERSION

November 3, 2023 – Body image, dating, romantic relationships, consent, values, intimacy, sexual diversity, gender pluralism and risks related to sexual solicitation on social media: these are among the topics covered in the latest edition of Be True to You, a sexuality education program aimed at young people between the ages of 12 and 17. Under the leadership of Francine Duquet, a sexologist and professor in the Department of Sexology at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), the program is part of the university’s Giving youth tools to deal with hypersexualization project. The project is designed to raise awareness among young people, and the adults who support them, to the phenomena of societal hypersexualization and early sexualization and to offer pathways for reflection and action in sexuality education.

Adapted to age levels and psychosexual development, Be True to You is a comprehensive program designed to help youth deal with sexuality during adolescence. In addition, it aims to develop essential skills for effective communication, as well as respect for one’s personal needs and boundaries while recognizing those of others. The lessons are incremental.

This approach to sexuality education is aimed at developing critical thinking in young people faced with pervasive messages about sexuality (media, social networks, etc.), in order to help them make informed decisions that correspond to their identity and their reality, and to resist unwanted pressure. It stresses the importance of identifying issues related to sharing intimacy, the responsibilities that accompany it (e.g.: consent, prevention of risky behaviour, etc.), as well as the conditions that enable youth to experience sexuality with respect and enjoyment.

“Recent developments have shown us the need for a sexuality education program that advocates values of dignity, caring and safety. It is essential to discuss sexuality with young people — using the best possible tools — in order to teach them how to navigate a sphere that is both unfamiliar and highly publicized, even commercialized. The Be True to You program promotes a critical, global, positive, inclusive approach to sexuality.”

Francine Duquet

Learning Objectives

The program has three main objectives:

  1. To encourage students to think about, friendship, love and sexual awakening, dating, romantic relationships, emotional and sexual intimacy, and egalitarian relationships, in a manner appropriate for their age and level of development.
  2. To foster critical thinking about the commercialization of sexuality and its impact on their identity formation, perception of relationships, and understanding of intimacy.
  3. To encourage the development of skills that enable students to be more self-assertive and, where applicable, to handle sexual activity in a way that respects their and their partner’s sense of privacy and boundaries.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Some topics are geared to a specific grade. For example, Secondary I students will have a session on bullying prevention while Secondary V students will discuss gender diversity and pluralism. Other topics span several grades: body image, dating and romantic relationships, consent and sexual activity. Each session involves a different approach and includes educational activities specific to the topic.

Program Design

Intended for teaching staff as well as workers in the community-youth or health and social services sector, the updated version of Be True to You is the fruit of a rigorous effort. The program has been adapted to the new sociosexual realities of adolescents. The work included a review of the recent scientific literature, teaching tools and educational videos. The results of a study on the evaluation of the first edition of Be True to You (Duquet, Gagnon and Faucher, 2010), carried out with 374 young people in Secondary 4 and 5 (Lefort, 2022) were also taken into consideration. Finally, the program design was based on the IMB (Information, Motivation, Behavioural Skills) theoretical model (Fisher and Fisher, 1992, 1998; Fisher, Fisher and Shuper, 2014) enabling participants to apply what they have learned to their daily lives. This model is also recommended by the Sex Information & Education Council of Canada (SIECCAN, 2019).

“We have designed a real turnkey program, which includes 20 sessions, varying from 75 to 150 minutes each, for which educational goals, session plan, instructions, support sheets for young people and their teachers or mentors, and accompanying educational videos and slideshows can be downloaded free of charge from our site or purchased for a moderate cost at the UQAM Coop.”

Francine Duquet

In addition, for use in schools, with reference to the official programs of the Ministry of Education, the program design team identified potential links between its educational goals and topics and the sexuality education content laid out  by the ministry in 2018, as well as those associated with the competencies of the recent Culture and Citizenship in Québec Program (MEQ, 2022).

The Be True to You program is available online in French (Oser être soi-même) and English. The online version is free.

Partner

This project was made possible through a joint agreement between the Giving youth tools to deal with hypersexualization project, the Partnerships and Innovation Support Department of UQAM and the Québec Ministry of Education. In addition, the redesign and the English translation of Be True to You, as well as the establishment of training for English-speaking school boards, were made possible thanks to the financial contribution of the Ministry of Education under the Canada-Québec Agreement.

Professor Francine Duquet is available for interviews.

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Source:

Joanie Doucet
Communications Officer
Press Relations and Special Events Division
Communications Department
Phone: 514 987-3000, ext. 3268
Cell: 514 297-2771
doucet.joanie@uqam.ca

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