Ontario Sexual Education and Blush: The Card Game

“Here are all the instructions for doing this acidic lab. Have fun!”

The teens start pulling out beakers and vials, pouring acid without the use of gloves. Safety goggles are placed on top of the head, to make it easier to see the measurements.

“But we didn’t want to teach the students safety measures! That would have given them ideas about how to hurt themselves!”

We don’t say things like that. In science classrooms around the world, the first thing that is taught are the safety measures. Wear your goggles at all times. When handling dangerous substances, use gloves, wear a lab coat, don’t touch corrosive substances with your skin, etc.

Why should it be any different in sex education?

Or, less scandalously, Healthy Living, as it’s called in the Ontario Health and Physical Education curriculum.

The Ontario government has shown it doesn’t care about your child’s sexual education. That doesn’t mean you’re on your own. Blush: The Card Game was designed to complement the 2015 curriculum, help parents gauge their child’s understanding of the course material, and impart their own values on the topics that they learned in school. Now it can be used to help parents fill in the gaps in their child’s education.

In the 2015 curriculum, some topics that were included are discussions about consent, respect, healthy relationships, sexual and gender identity, and cyberbullying.

When the Ontario government repealed the curriculum and reinstated the one from 1998 they went back to a time before the internet.

A lot has changed in twenty years, including how students access to information. The internet is widely available now, and on devices a lot smaller than the old family computer in the living. Meaning kids feel more comfortable searching for their questions about sex and sexuality than going to their parents, if they feel awkward.

Unfortunately there are massive amounts of information on everything and it’s difficult to find and identify valid and trustworthy sources. Blush: The Card Game has valid sources already sorted through and made available to you. You can read them in advance or with your child.

Let’s talk about a few facts.

Cyberbullying: 1 in 3 kids have been or will be cyberbullied, and it is projected to get worse.

Sexual and gender identity: the “alphabet soup” terminology isn’t meant to confuse – being able to put a name to differences that people can otherwise not explain can be nothing short of lifesaving; it gives the feelings one already has a sense of normalcy and legitimacy, and, most importantly, access to the community who shares that experience. Thankfully, they can be looked up in the dictionary (more in depth sources of information are included with Blush). Giving students the terminology to describe themselves isn’t giving them ideas – it’s giving them the tools and the agency to use them.

The 2015 curriculum also bumped up the conversation about puberty to an earlier age.

This means that topics like menstruation will be taught to everyone together. Chances are, even if your child does not menstruate, they will encounter someone who does.

Being aware of what menstruation means will foster an understanding and respect of what other human beings are going through.

Talking about puberty was moved to grade 4 from grade 5-6, because in grade 4, most kids are 9-10 years old.

Recently, puberty has been starting in kids around that age. Teaching them about what their bodies are going through BEFORE they go through it will help avoid a possibly traumatic experience.

I was lucky that my mother talked to me about my period before I got it – she was only early by about six months. I can’t imagine my panic if I had started bleeding before I knew what it was. And the 1998 curriculum was instigated the year I was 13, so I wasn’t taught about menstruation in school until it was too late

One of the most important aspects of the 2015 curriculum – it normalizes talking about the body and its functions, starting the discussion in grade 1 by naming body parts.

To recap, the 2015 curriculum has been removed, and the 1998 one has been reinstated.

That means that parents need to shoulder the brunt of the responsibility of teaching their kids. They need to learn the information, so that they can impart the knowledge necessary upon their children. This decisSex Ed Secondary Curriculumion by the Ontario government means a lot more work for parents.

Here are some tools available and being prepared:

  • The 2015 curriculum documents, Elementary (PDF 2.6MB) and Secondary (PDF 1.7MB) so you can follow along and make sure that your child is learning the content that they need.
  • An amazing educator, Dr. Nadine Thornhill , who is working on youtube videos to teach the 2015 curriculum.
  • A really great website is Sex and U. It’s a great resource from Ontario that has lots of searchable information.
  • Scarleteen is another great site and one of oldest and most inclusive sex ed resources out there!
  • Then there is Blush: The Card Game, to help you discuss topics and impart your own values in a fun and educational way.

The removal of the 2015 curriculum doesn’t just affect you. It affects our future, and the future of our children. I want my daughter growing up with her body and identity respected. Please teach your children that cyberbullying is wrong, that respect is given to everyone, that consent is important, that sexual and gender identities are diverse, beautiful, and valid, and what healthy relationships look like.

Do you have a question about sex or sexuality? You can ask your question Anonymously here.

If you have any questions about Blush: The Card Game, it’s content, how it can help you. Feel free to contact us at blushcardgame@gmail.com

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Blush: PA safety

Anonymous Question

Hi! I’m considering getting PA piercing and I recently became sexually active. Is there anything I should know about safe sex with a PA?


Thank you for using our anonymous question box!

I’m going to take a wild guess here and say that a PA piercing is a Prince Albert piercing – where the piercing goes through the opening of the urethra and out the underside of the head of the penis.

Image from worstofehow.com

You should definitely wait until your piercing has fully healed before any sort of intercourse.

Safe sex with any sort of jewelry is difficult, because jewelry has all sorts of sharp/hard edges to them. I’m actually finding conflicting information about what to do about condoms. Some are saying that you should remove the piercing before putting on the condom, but others are saying that you shouldn’t remove the piercing for longer than a few minutes because the holes might close up, and you should get a condom with a larger receptacle at the head. If you go the route of larger receptacle, lube the inside of the condom and the piercing itself to reduce friction. I had a hard time finding out anything about a plastic piercing, so that might be something for you to consider. Ask your piercer! They should know all about the risks and safety precautions.

There is a potentially higher risk of contracting an STI with a genital piercing, because there is a larger chance of the STI entering the bloodstream. Because of this, barriers should definitely be used.

I also found a recommendation to clean the pierced area with saline immediately after intercourse.

I also saw a suggestion that was interesting – get a dildo pierced. Then you’ll know what it looks and feels like during sex, and you can decide whether or not you want it for yourself.






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Blush: Bondage Safety

With the continued popularity(?) of 50 Shades of Grey, and the release of the movie The Book Club (very well acted, I’d give it a 8/10), where the main characters read the book, I wanted to cover something that isn’t mentioned often enough.


Rope. Image from www.amazon.fr. Please do not assume that this is appropriate rope for play. I have not researched it.

I’m talking about more than simply having a safe word (you also have to know how to use/listen for it). Use the right materials, and know how to use them properly.

If you’re just starting out, don’t use metal handcuffs.

Don’t jump right into a complicated suspension.

Do your research. Make your partner do research. Everyone involved should read about all aspects (tying up and tied up) before starting, and if you have questions, there are places you can go to ask.

In Ottawa, both Venus Envy and Wicked Wanda’s have education seminars. If you can’t make it out to one of those, the staff are incredibly knowledgeable and can either answer your questions or point you in the right direction.

Have fun, play safe!


(Mostly SFW – no big images)



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Blush: Invisible Pride

June is Pride Month, and rainbow flags are everywhere. That’s awesome, and a good first step. But I’d like to talk about the people who are invisible in pride.

Image by Laura Williams.

The bisexuals, whether they are single or in hetero relationships. You are welcome.

The trans individuals in hetero relationships. You are welcome.

The intersex people. You are welcome.

The ace- and aro-spec. You are welcome.

If you count yourself under the +, you are welcome.

We shouldn’t be policing who can celebrate pride. Everyone LGBTQQIPP2SAAADG+ has the right to celebrate, and it’s none of our business which box they fit into.

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You may have heard of LGBT. So why did I add all those extra letters on the end? Well, the four letters doesn’t really cover the complete spectrum. Neither does LGBTQQIPP2SAAADGG+, honestly. That’s why there’s a plus on the end – because there is no complete form!

I thought I’d give a list to tell you what each of these letters mean. Here we go!

LGBTQQIPP2SAAADGG+: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Pansexual, Polyamory, 2-Spirit, Agender, Asexual, Aromantic, Demisexual, Genderqueer, and Graysexual. The plus sign is there because there is no complete form.

Alphabet soup. Image from here.

And that’s it for this post!

Just kidding. Here’s a tiny summary of each one:


Lesbian: a woman who is attracted to other women

Gay: a man who is attracted to other men

Bisexual: a person attracted to other people of both their gender and other genders

Transgender: a person who was assigned one gender at birth, but does not live as that gender. It is not a requirement to undergo gender confirmation surgery to identify as transgender

Queer: an umbrella term to indicate not specifically heterosexual and/or monogamous

Questioning: a person who is exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity

Intersex: people who have a combination of chromosomes, sex organs, hormones, and/or genitals that differ from the “binary”. Some intersex people are visibly identified at birth, but still more are not noticeable until they try to have children, or sometimes never discovered

Pansexual: a person who is attracted to all gender identities and expressions

Polyamory: a person who is involved in (or open to) multiple relationships with the consent of all partners

2-Spirit: Aboriginal term for people with attributes of more than one gender

Agender: a person who does not identify as male or female

Asexual: a spectrum defining little to no sexual attraction to other people

Aromantic: a spectrum defining little to no romantic attraction to other people

Demisexual: part of the asexual spectrum; little to no romantic attraction is felt until an emotional bond is made

Genderqueer/Genderfluid: a gender identity for people who do not identify with the binary, or are fluid, or many other reasons

Graysexual: a person who experiences sexual attraction very rarely, or at a very low intensity

+:  there is no complete form. The plus sign indicates that there are many more letters that could be added.





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Blush: TSS and menstrual cups

I am a huge supporter of the use of menstrual cups. I have used a Diva Cup since 2008, and cannot imagine switching away from it. I talk about my foray into postnatal products here, as it is not safe to use insertable menstrual products after delivery, no matter the method of delivery.

The other day, one of my friends tagged me in a link to an article describing how cups are linked to increased bacteria. At first, I just brushed it off. ONE article does not concern me. But as I was thinking about what to write this week, I realized that I was biased. I should actually sit down and do the damn research myself.

And do you know what I found? Not much.

Not only is there next to no research done on the prevalence of bacteria found on cups, there doesn’t seem to be any plans of doing any research on this. Get on this, scientists!

Moving on…

Let’s examine what Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) actually is. If you’re like me about an hour ago, you would say, “oh, TSS has something to do with leaving tampons in for a long time.”

You’d be partially right, but mostly wrong.

Yeah, I was surprised too.

TSS is actually caused by bacteria (specifically Staph and Strep) getting into the bloodstream and releasing harmful toxins.

This is a Giant Microbe of Staph. You can buy them here.

This means something super important: Toxic Shock Syndrome is NOT limited to tampon users.


That was my reaction. Anybody can get TSS. Jim Henson died from TSS, and as far as I know, he did not use tampons.

Tampons are a pretty good breeding ground for bacteria, and in the 70’s, there was a chemical compound in the “super absorbent” tampons that really increased this. Once that compound was eliminated, the number of TSS cases reported dropped drastically. Removing tampons when directed helps, too.

Also, using a higher absorbency tampon than required can cause micro-abrasions inside the vagina, leading to a higher likelihood of the bad bacteria finding a way inside the bloodstream.

Okay. Now that we’ve cleared that up, what about bacteria on cups causing TSS?

According to my research (thanks Dorothy Ann), there has been one reported case of a person getting TSS while using a cup. It was in 2015, and it was reported that there was an abrasion inside the vagina at the time of use of the cup.

We already have Staph and Strep bacteria all over our bodies at all times. They’re mostly harmless. If they are allowed to grow as a colony, breed, and then slip into our bloodstream, there is STILL a pretty high likelihood that our white blood cells will fend them off. It’s once the bacteria release the poisonous toxins that there’s a problem, and scientists still don’t know what causes that!

Without any real hard scientific evidence to prove one way or another, we can’t say that Cups are better or worse than tampons at breeding bacteria. If you look at the original article I mention again, there’s a diagram showing the amount of bacteria found on tampons and cups, with the control being just a regular vagina. Look at how much Staph they found in a regular vagina, and compare it to the rest. There is almost as much or more Staph bacteria in a regular vagina as there is on a cup or tampon! Remember, this is NORMAL. The decreased amount of bacteria on the tampon is probably due to the change in pH of a vagina from the substances on the tampon. This is not necessarily a good thing. The pH of a vagina should be balanced. You WANT to find bacteria in there! (The good kind, obviously.)

This diagram is one of the reasons why I wanted to dismiss the article immediately. It doesn’t really show anything important.

But I’m glad I did the research, if only to realize how little research has actually been done. I’m surprised, even though vaginas are apparently a dirty word in research.

I will keep using my cup, washing it thoroughly with soap after every use. But honestly, I’m not too worried.





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Blush: Recommendation Wednesday LGBTQIA+ books for kids

Two things happened recently that gave me the idea to do this post.

I took my 19-month old daughter to the library last Friday for the first time since the fall. She had a lot of fun with the two other kids there, sharing the train set, and putting blocks into a basket. She also put all the books that were on the floor (and there were a lot, because one of the other kids had been there for a while) into the “file box” after I showed her where that was.

But the best part was when she brought me a book to read to her called “Introducing Teddy”.

Introducing Teddy by Jessica Walton, illustrated by Dougal MacPherson. Image from bloomsbury.

Just in case you were wondering, no, I did not point out this book to her. She pulled it out from the shelf on her own.

Anyways, it was a super cute book about Teddy being a girl, not a boy. It also has a human girl building a robot, which was rather exciting.

I think we might get this book for our daughter’s personal collection, because it was just so adorable, and it held her attention for the entire book (unlike the other two children, who sat beside us for a couple of pages and then ran off).

The second thing that happened was a post on Facebook (of course). NewNowNext released a list of 9 new or upcoming LGBT children’s books. We own the first one: Promised Land. The rest look interesting, so we’ll probably borrow them from the library.

Promised Land by Adam Reynolds and Chaz Harris, illustrated by Christine Luiten and Bo Moore. Image from goodreads.

It’s a typical fairy tale, where a farm boy and a prince who have an adventure together and fall in love.

We backed this book on Kickstarter, and have since backed the second one (coming out this summer, I believe – no pun intended). And, to save on shipping (because this comes from New Zealand!), we ordered 5 copies of both books. We still have one unclaimed book (of each), so if there’s anyone interested, please leave a comment, and we’ll talk!

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Blush: Rim shot

A couple of weeks ago, an article popped up on my news feed (I like to write posts about topics that come up in conversation online or in person, especially if they are ones that I don’t know much about, so I feel like I’ve said this opening sentence often) and out of curiosity, I clicked on it to read it. It was about a gastro parasite contracted by rimming. Here it is, in all it’s graphic detail.

Image from youtube video screenshot.

So there’s a couple things that I’d like to talk about in this article.

The first thought that came into my head as I was reading was, “I’ve only really thought about STIs being transmitted!”

The second thought, almost immediately following the first, “It makes complete sense that bacteria could be transmitted as well. Why isn’t this discussed more often?”

And third, “Why wasn’t this guy using a dental dam?”

I’ve talked about dental dams before, so I won’t repeat myself. However, I hadn’t mentioned that they are a good barrier method for oral-anal (or analingus) sex. I’ve now done some research, and yes, they are safe (and recommended!) to be used on the anus.

My search history is quite varied and unusual.

My first attempt at finding out more information on bacteria transmission via analingus didn’t turn up anything about bacteria. I found a lot of confirmation (references #1-6) that dental dams are safe for anal use, but only that they protected against STI infections.

Reference #7 finally mentioned bacteria, but only in reference to anal sex, and didn’t go into any detail about it.

Finally, references #8-10 discussed the topic I was interested in, and I was able to learn a bit more about what the original article described.

Parasites in the gastrointestinal tract invariably leave it in one direction: via the anus. Cleaning, even as thoroughly as one would before sex play, will NOT get rid of all the bacteria. Any time anal play is involved, protection should be used, even in an exclusive relationship.

(Side note: reference #9 suggests plastic wrap as a barrier method – THIS IS NOT A GOOD IDEA! Plastic wrap is porous, and is not a viable method of protection.)

The fact that it was so difficult to find references (at all, not just good ones) on the subject means that very few people have considered the consequences of not using protection while rimming. That’s kind scary.

To sum up, use protection!


  1. https://www.optionsforsexualhealth.org/sexual-health/sexually-transmitted-infections/barriers/oral-dams
  2. https://www.islandsexualhealth.org/2006/06/dental-dams/
  3. https://www.islandsexualhealth.org/sex-safety/using-oral-dental-dams/
  4. http://hshc.ca/dental-dams/
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/Dental-dam-use.html
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/std/healthcomm/stdfact-stdriskandoralsex.htm
  7. https://www.webmd.com/sex/anal-sex-health-concerns#1
  8. http://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/does-good-washing-anilingus-remove-bacteria
  9. http://www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20188681,00.html
  10. http://www.healthcommunities.com/anal-health/index.shtml

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Blush: Infant foreskin

I don’t have a penis. I have only rarely dealt with (read: changed the diaper of) an infant with a penis (and don’t remember doing it, so it was a really long time ago). So when an article about infant foreskin crossed my path, I opened it, because, “Hey, new thing I don’t know much about!”

And wow did I learn.

Ovate Mushroom from wildflowerfinder.org.uk.

If the foreskin is still attached to the penis of the infant – you don’t have to pull it back to clean inside it.

Not only that, but you should NOT pull it back.

In an infant, the foreskin is attached to the head by a membrane called the synechia. The membrane dissolves (not unlike the hymen), but this takes time (2-6 YEARS is normal, although earlier or later than that is not concerning), and should not be rushed. The first person to pull back the foreskin should be the child – they will stop if it hurts or if there is resistance.

If the membrane is pulled back, severe pain, bleeding, tearing, infections, and permanent damage could happen to the penis.

Once the child does this the first time, you can teach them how to wash underneath the foreskin (pull back, wash under the folds, rinse away all the soap, push forwards again…references below). But until then, the foreskin protects the head of the penis from all bacteria – including poop! (If I had thought about infant penises before having read up on the subject, I would have assumed that you would have to pull back the foreskin to clean out poop – you certainly have to clean EVERYWHERE with an infant vulva! But nope!)

The only time you should be concerned about the foreskin of the infant is if it gets red, sore, or inflamed. If the child can’t pee, that is definitely a problem. Bring them to a doctor.

The human body knows what it is doing. Let it take care of itself, and don’t pull back an infant’s foreskin!





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Blush Recommendation Wednesday: QueerPop

I am sick. Here is a recommendation for you.

Image from the Facebook page.

Info taken directly from their Facebook page:

QueerPop is a site for conversations about LGBTQ2IA+ identities, particularly as they appear in our popular culture and popular media. We hope to open dialogue about Queer experiences and portrayals of us as Queer people. We plan to use this digital space to bring to light some of the positive representations of LGBTQ2IA+ people and culture. We hope to capture the idea of queerness as a CULTURE, as a group identity, and to look at aspects of our cultural identity. As a group, we are frequently erased or ignored, so we hope to bring attention to and talk about the things that people outside our culture don’t hear, see, or experience. We want to promote own voices materials and let our voices percolate in a space of conversation. We also hope to explore the way that we are described and articulated by people outside our community and the problems that often arise from our portrayal by straight, cisgender folks.

We plan to use a variety of methods for engaging in the discussion of Queer Pop including video, audio recordings, artwork, photos, creative writing, poetry, storytelling, performance, and written materials. We plan to engage with these materials through discussions with specialists in the area (authors, activists, academics, artists, and others with narratives to share), through sharing panel discussions, and by sharing reviews.

We want to focus on the idea of ACCESS.

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