As their name suggests, Sex Education by Theatre (SExT), provides sexual health education to high school students in a way that is current and relatable. On 6 May 2019, the group performed to over fifty Garneau students from various phys-ed classes, in the school library. The group was invited by Mr. Pearce, the teacher supervisor for the Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA). GSA is currently working on a series of mini-projects as part of their bigger initiative, Project Love, which aims to reduce stigma in the school surrounding sexual identity, and to make Garneau more welcoming overall.
SExT is a theatre group that writes and performs skits about high school topics like sexual health, mental health, sexual abuse, and sexual identity. These topics are discussed in a humorous and engaging way through skits, songs, and dance.
On 6 May, the show started off with “Let it Flow”, a parody of Disney Frozen’s “Let it Go”, with a focus on information about periods. It was followed by a rap song about sexual identity and coming out, and the struggles high schoolers face in the process. Then, the group performed a funny but informative skit about sexual health and safety, where they introduced different types of sexually transmitted diseases and clarified the differences in protection that condoms and birth control pills offer. This was followed by a scene on sexual abuse and coping with it, as well as a scene of a high schooler who had gotten pregnant and had to tell her strict parents. The show ended with “Bodak Consent” (a parody on “Bodak Yellow”), for which a music video was filmed in the hallways of Marc Garneau.
SExT was started by director Shira Taylor, who was visiting Garneau in 2014 and told a student in the office about an idea she had: teaching sexual health through theatre. The student liked the idea, but told her that girls in Marc Garneau would likely be unwilling to perform this topic, given the community. Shira decided to visit a girls’ gym class at the school, and received an overwhelming response when she asked whether they would be interested in this idea. She later recruited a group of students, all from Garneau, who would help her combine their talent in the arts with their desire to teach, through a theatrical performance.
In today’s performance, nine former Garneau students put together and performed skits and songs. One of them, Mary Getachew, spoke about her hope for what viewers take away from her performance, saying “on the whole, I want people to know that for every choice someone makes, there are many other choices open to them. I want them to be aware and informed of all their options.” Shira agreed, with the hope that the show teaches students “options, information and skills to protect themselves and to avoid tough situations.” She added, “I also hope that they know that if they ever do get into a tough situation, there is always a way out of that situation.”
The performance was very well received by students, who found it funny but informative at the same time. Anna Xia, a Grade 11 student and member of GSA, said, “I found the performance very interesting. It taught me a lot about sexual education in a relatable and fun way. I would give it a solid 8/10. To take it to a 10/10, I would improve the transitions between scenes, as they were a bit awkward, and I also think it could be more informative; right now it’s slightly too focussed on the humorous or theatrical aspect of it. But that could just be my science background speaking!” Another student, Yousuf Ghulam, said “the show helped me be more aware of the choices I have as well as about sexual education in general. This was a really interesting way to present the information instead of just sitting in classes.”
SExT will be performing and providing their engaging sexual health education performance at high schools across the Northwest Territories over the next three weeks. If their performance will be as good as it was at Garneau, those students are sure to learn a lot and have a great time doing so!