Sex Ed-Less Commuting in Canada?

Amie Newman

Riding the ferries in Vancouver? You'll get free wi-fi but no sex-education.

The Vancouver BC ferry system has free wi-fi. Cool. But if you’re hoping to catch up on some STI or pregnancy prevention research, via the internet, while you’re commuting, you’re out of luck.

That’s because in addition to things like “child porn” and “illegal activities,” ferry riders are also prevented from accessing sites related to “abortion” or “sex education.”

BC Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall said the ferry corporation decided to block such material because it feared websites about abortion or sex education might contain inappropriate photos.

When you type the words “sex education” into google, you get (ready?) web sites related to sexuality education none of which, on the home pages, contain anything remotely as racy as any Vogue cover; and when you type in the word “abortion” you get (sit tight…) links to health centers that provide abortion, including Planned Parenthood. Honestly, since when does the internet not bring up “inappropriate photos” no matter what you’re looking at?!

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Perhaps, though, the best “wha??” arguments come from sex-ed and civil rights groups in Canada who told the Vancouver Sun,

That explanation doesn’t sit well with Greg Smith, executive director of Options for Sexual Health, which operates a sex-education website and provides referrals for abortion services.

“I don’t understand why the ferry corporation thinks this is somehow illicit information,” said Smith. “This is information that every human being needs … I‘d love to meet with the ferry corporation management and talk about sex education because clearly they don’t understand what it is.”

The decision was also criticized by David Eby, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

“Certainly there are questions about appropriate use — you don’t want someone surfing pornography in front of other passengers,” said Eby. “But what does BC Ferries care if someone is learning about sexual education during their ferry ride?”

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