Fresh voices bring new debate on sex in school

U of W students, recent high school grads join race for school trustee

Kevin Settee is accomplishing a lot for a 23-year-old University of Winnipeg student.

The 2014 recipient of the Harry Lehotsky Memorial Scholarship has spent hours working as an advocate for missing and murdered Indigenous women and volunteering at Gordon Bell High School, his alma mater.

And now Settee has put his bid in for school board trustee in Winnipeg School Division (WSD) Ward 5.

Settee, an advocate for the safety of women in Winnipeg’s inner city, believes sex education is significant in WSD
Ward 5.

“The reality is we do need to teach kids about safe sex,” Settee stresses. “There are kids that are sexually active in the community. There’s no hiding that. They need to be educated.

“There are kids who might never have seen what a healthy relationship is. School can be a place where they can learn
about that.”

The debate on sex education in school was sparked by comments made by Candace Maxymowich, a 20-year-old trustee candidate running in Louis Riel School Division Ward 4.

“I personally do not support sex education other than abstinence. That’s my personal belief. However, it is not something that I am campaigning on and I would not push for if elected,” Maxymowich stated in an Aug. 6 Winnipeg Free Press article.

When The Uniter attempted to contact Maxymowich for a phone interview, she was unavailable to speak, as she was on her way to Houston, Texas to meet Sarah Palin. She did take the time to answer a few questions via email.

“Palin is speaking at an event and I have the opportunity to meet her,” Maxymowich says via email.

“It’s exciting! Back in 2008, when John McCain picked her as his running mate, that was the first election campaign I paid any attention to.”

Maxymowich and Settee are two of four school trustee candidates under age 25.

Dakota Kochie, an 18-year-old first year U of W student running in Transcona School Division Ward 1, and Tanjit Nagra, an 18-year-old University of Manitoba student running in Louis Riel School Division Ward 1, have also added their names to the ballot.

And with all this young blood in the race, Teresa Jaworski, who has served the Seven Oaks school board 2006, is supportive of the youthful candidates but mindful of the difficulties of the position.

“It takes a while to become a good trustee, catch on to things and become of value to the school board,” Jaworski says.

“[Their age] could be an advantage but it could also be a disadvantage because they are so young and inexperienced.”

Settee, who is in his second year of Urban and Inner-City Studies, is quick to shrug off these criticisms.

“How else can we gain the experience without taking these steps into politics?” he says. “We’re coming straight from the education system. We have fresh, lived experiences. It’s important for these kinds of voices to be heard on the school board.”

Published in Volume 69, Number 2 of The Uniter (September 10, 2014)

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