The Borders of Sexuality: Immigration Policy and Sexual Education in Canada

  • Author / Creator
    Turner, Iliana
  • Comprehensive sexual education (CSE) is defined by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization as “a curriculum-based process of teaching and learning about the cognitive, emotional, physical and social aspects of sexuality” (2018, p. 16). Given the social and cultural aspects of sexual education, my research posits that newcomer access to comprehensive sexual education could be crucial to settlement and inclusion processes in Canada. Thus, my research asks: where does immigration and settlement policy intersect with sexual education policy in Canada? How does newcomer and immigrant community access to sexual education impact immigration and settlement processes?
    To investigate the ways in which the policy areas of immigration and settlement and sexual education overlap, I examine how sexual education is delivered in Edmonton, Alberta, a city that has one of the most robust and multifaceted settlement frameworks in Canada. A key data source for this research includes interviews with settlement workers and others who administer social integration programming, to assess whether or not they think sexual education is integral to settlement and integration, what barriers might exist in providing these services, and relationships between organizations who work in these fields. Before engaging with interview findings, however, this thesis will first provide several contextual chapters. This includes discussion of how access to sexual education and sexual health for newcomers and immigrant communities are part of the landscapes of biopolitics and sexual citizenship in Canada, the multijurisdictional nature of immigration and settlement policy, the terrain of sexual education policy in Canada, and the capacity of comprehensive sexual education to engage in anti-racist approaches.
    This thesis establishes that sexual education does in fact overlap with immigration and settlement policy, as norms around sex and gender are woven into the immigration process. Although issues related to sexual education do arise in a settlement context, there are both structural and cultural barriers that hinder a more fulsome engagement with sexual education in the services and programs provided by settlement agencies. However, these barriers have been challenged by service providers with strategies that emphasize integrative and relational approaches to sexual education with clients, as well as framing sexual educational content around individual and family wellness. These strategies relate to approaches outlined by UNESCO for effective implementation of CSE, suggesting that settlement work can be conducive to CSE.
    This thesis also identifies key service gaps in the provision of settlement services at large, and thus sexual education in this context. The research also highlights service gaps from organizations invested in the implementation of CSE in serving newcomer and immigrant communities. The research culminates in recommendations to address these gaps and further areas of research to be pursued.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.