Condoms were hung from a fireplace with care in the auditorium at Lord Byng secondary Wednesday.
The prophylactics set the scene for the holiday-themed Sex at Lunch session, which a trio mounts approximately every two weeks for students in Grades 11 and 12 and sometimes Grade 10.
“Fa la la la la, don’t get herpes…” read one of the projections for the Wrap Your Package holiday-themed session on sexually transmitted infections.
The 200 students who attended sang “The 12 STIs of Christmas,” which includes the line: “My balls are lumpy and sore.”
Teacher Lisa Shopland-Black says organizers make the sessions entertaining as well as informative to attract teenagers on a voluntary basis.
“So that the kids feel they can take some of these facts home and it opens up conversation,” she said.
Shopland-Black and counsellor Tamara McKay expanded sex ed programs at the school in West Point Grey after they heard Grade 12 students talking about a trip to the Dominican Republic about seven years ago.
“They were just bragging about how it was going to be endless drunkenness and sexual opportunities with students from all over,” McKay said.
“One of the main messages that we give to kids… is sex is something you do with someone not to someone, so that involves a level of maturity and communication that you need to learn,” Shopland-Black said.
She, McKay and family physician Colleen Kirkham started Sex at Lunch sessions at Byng in spring 2013. Topics have included Vaginarama, Penispalooza, Celebration of the Rainbow, and Consent.
A Byng history teacher has covered the History of Masturbation and a Byng law teacher talked about Sex and the Law.
“It communicates to the kids that these teachers are other adults that are on board, that if you have a better connection with them, you can talk to them,” McKay said.
The more they talked about sex, the more students approached and emailed them with questions, such as whether a girl could get pregnant if a guy ejaculated on her vulva or if they had anal sex and whether their anatomy and appetites were normal.
Grade 12 student Violet Read says her favourite session focused on porn.
“It was like the average-length penis in a porn is nine inches and in reality it’s four-and-a-half and five [inches long, erect,]” the 16-year-old said.
She reports learning how to navigate sticky situations.
“This probably prevented me from making bad choices,” Read said.
Kirkham says half of secondary students will have had sex by the time they graduate. The average age youth in B.C. have intercourse is 17.5 or 18.
Shopland-Black and McKay say graduated students have returned to thank them. McKay recently ran into a young man who was keen to discuss sexual concerns at a hockey game.
“Sometimes students use us to come out to [as gay]. It’s like, ‘OK, let’s practise how we would tell my parents,’” Shopland-Black said.
The Vancouver Division of Family Practice and the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Providence Health Care have provided money for supplies, treats and door prizes for the program that will run over two years. The trio continues to evaluate the program and Kirkham said the Division of Family Practice is keen to continue to support the lunchtime sessions and see other doctors adopt a school.