CANFAR partners with SExT: Sex Education by Theatre on second national tour

Starting this May 9th, SExT: Sex Education by Theatre in partnership with The Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR) will once again perform in a national high schools’ tour to promote sexual health education to youth in some of Canada’s most remote communities that are greatly affected by the HIV and STI epidemic.

Recently, the Chief Public Health Officer of the Northwest Territories (NWT) issued an alert for skyrocketing rates of gonorrhea and syphilis among youth at 17x the national rate. CANFAR and SExT have partnered with the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer of the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) to send the 10-­person cast of SExT to visit 12 communities in NWT. The tour will end with a run of Toronto shows this June, including John Polyani CI in Lawrence Heights, CW Jefferys at Jane and Finch, and Central Technical School, reaching a total of over 3,500 students.

“Our tour to the Northwest Territories comes at a crucial time for the North, in light of the alarming peak in STI rates,” said SExT founder Shira Taylor.

SExT puts a hilarious and localized spin on sexual health issues, empowering youth in some of the most remote areas of the country with the information and skills they need to keep themselves safe. A far cry from traditional sex education, our show is a celebration of cultural ties, unique identities, resilience, and personal agency and we hope it has an activating effect in communities.”

SExT founder Shira Taylor

SExT uses theatre to educate young people about sexual health topics, including HIV/STI prevention, consent, mental health, gender and sexual diversity, healthy relationships, racism, and cyberbullying. SExT consists of a compilation of sketches, songs, poems, raps, and dances grounded in a culturally inclusive, youth-­led and arts-based approach. SExT was created in 2014 by PhD Candidate, Shira Taylor (Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto), to provide a safe and creative space for youth to explore topics that they have identified as most relevant to their lives. SExT was born out of Toronto’s Thorncliffe/Flemingdon Park, a community where sexuality is a cultural taboo and sexual health education, a contentious issue.

In 2018, in partnership with CANFAR, SExT performed for over 40 high schools and Indigenous reserves across Northern Saskatchewan, Northern Ontario, and the Greater Toronto Area, reaching over 4,200 youth, many of them Indigenous, newcomers, and/or from other priority groups. Following its success, CANFAR is excited to present the second National SExT Tour scheduled for this May and June.

Watch the video above to see our impact from the 2018 Tour

“We are so delighted to partner with SExT on a national high schools tour again. The impact this initiative had last year in some of the most marginalized communities most affected by the HIV epidemic in Canada was incredible,” said Roxanne Ma, CANFAR Senior Manager of National Youth Awareness Programs. “For example, our findings showed that over 40% of students felt more knowledgeable about HIV and other sexual health topics after seeing the performance, and 36% of students reported feeling more knowledgeable about where to get tested in their community. Additionally, 30% of students last year said they felt more comfortable with seeking mental health-­related help after attending a SExT show.”

Ensuring that sexual health information and education are made accessible and relevant to youth are key to empowering youth to take charge of their own health and contribute to CANFAR’s goal of ending the HIV epidemic in Canada. We are very proud to be working with SExT as part of our National Youth Awareness Programs.”

CANFAR Senior Manager of National Youth Awareness Programs Roxanne Ma

Through this partnership, CANFAR strives to empower Canadian youth to become more proactive about their health and more knowledgeable about HIV and STI prevention. CANFAR and SExT hope that this initiative will not only increase young people’s knowledge around sexual health and decision making, and but also reduce the rate of new HIV and STI infections among youth across Canada.

About the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR)

CANFAR was founded in 1987 and exists to end the HIV epidemic in Canada by funding innovative research, dynamic partnerships and national awareness programs. Over its 30-year history, CANFAR has invested more than $21 million and awarded more than 400 grants across Canada in research addressing all aspects of HIV and AIDS. In Canada, about a quarter of new HIV infections are among youth between ages 15 and 29. CANFAR is dedicated to reaching the most vulnerable youth through its National Awareness Programs, which focus on educating young people across the country about HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and stigma reduction.

Available for Interviews:

Shira Taylor – Creator/Director SExT
Roxanne Ma – CANFAR Senior Manager of National Youth Awareness Programs

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For media inquiries, please contact:

Project Four Public Relations
Amira de Vera –
(647) 865-­1804