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Research Prompt #1 - Sex Ed

Philipp Dominik Keidl, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

This is a group of films made and used for sex education. The films were made by Canadian private production companies and distributed across North America, where they were shown in educational institutions as well as private initiatives and organizations. The majority of films listed below were produced from the 1950s to the 1970s, with a few exceptions from the 1930s and 1980s.

The short and feature-length films in this list represent a variety of film forms and genres, including fiction, documentary, and animated productions and drama, comedy, and didactic films respectively. They address a diverse range of topics: virginity, physical appearance, puberty, birth control, love, masturbation, parental opinion, sexual abuse, alcoholism, teenage pregnancy, impotence, marriage, same-sex desire, venereal diseases, gender norms, relationships, marriage and others. The films produced in the immediate post-war period are more concerned with social norms and conformity than with alternative sexual identities and lifestyles. Yet, films made in the 1970s and 1980s begin to show a more diverse approach to sexuality and sexual identity beyond the nuclear middle-class family, and some productions occasionally complement or replace expert instructions with opinions and experiences of teenagers (All the Guys Ever Want Is S.E.X.: Romance, Sex, and Marriage) and adults (The Menopause Story). Moreover, films from the 1970s and 1980s shift debates from sexual restraint to sexual satisfaction (Ego, Les corps érotiques) and deconstructing sexual myths and misconceptions that create stress rather than pleasure (Sexuality and Communication).

Some of the works represented in this list are stand-alone works, while others are part of a series of films. Notable series are Crawley Films’ “Adolescent Development” series from the 1950s and Moreland-Latchford Productions’ “Family Living and Sex Education” series from the 1960s. These series were produced in collaboration with medical professionals and teachers respectively. While “Family Living and Sex Education” contains dramatized as well as purely instructional films, each film in the “Adolescent Development” series follows a group of New York High School students to address issues such as sexuality as well as substance abuse. Moreover, whereas “Family Living and Sex Education” is primarily addressed to school children and teenagers, “Adolescent Development” is intended to be seen and discussed by parents and teens.  

Together, the films in this research prompt are documents of discourses and debates as well as audiovisual methods for sex education from the 1930s onwards (The Venereal Diseases). At the same time, they also document the rise of consumer and youth culture in North American middle class in the 1950s and 1960s (Social-Sex Attitudes in Adolescence). These developments required renegotiations between the relationship of parents and children as well as the role of state institutions, private initiatives, and parents in child and sex education to tackle shifting sexual norms, family models, as well as educational practices.

While in some instances only doctors and educators share their insights (Methods of Family Planning), other films emphasize the importance of parental guidance for sex education (Physical Aspects of Puberty), while others put teenagers into the role of experts (Toi qui changes, More Common than Measles and Mumps). Parental guidance in sex education comes primarily through the mother (How Much Affection), and rarely from the father (The Maturing Female). Films produced in the 1930s to 1960s especially lack a diverse representation of racial, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds. They primarily depict stories of white, heterosexual middle-class individuals and families.

Although more contemporary films from the 1970s and 1980s explicitly intend to teach adults how to increase their sexual pleasure, sex education films were a highly contested topic in the 1960s, as became evident in a CBC Television episode of Take 30 (Oct. 23, 1969). Asking parents, educators and experts about their opinions, the show captured Canada’s different opinions on questions about whether sex education should be part of school curricula and how sex educations should look like. While some of the interviewees welcomed progressive pedagogical approaches to providing sex education, others condemned the opening to schools for the public discussion of such topics. A strong then gradually decreasing restraint against sex education is also captured in the tone of the films listed here. Early films put the responsibility for sex education in the realm of the family and teach teenagers and parents on how to control their feelings, but later productions emphasize the importance of providing adolescents and adults alike with the freedom to openly articulate, exchange, and reflect on their emotions, sexual desires, and body functions with others outside domestic spaces.

These privately-produced films represent an invaluable resource for film and media scholars, but also historians, sociologists, anthropologists, educators, and medical practitioners, among others, who study the history of sex education in North America in the 20th century.

CESIF Films by Title

All the Guys Ever Want Is S.E.X.: Romance, Sex, and Marriage

(1975, English, Colour, Sound, 16mm, 27 mins)

All the Guys Ever Want is S.E.X, 1975

Accession Number: 1975.0019
Producers: Hobel-Leiterman Productions, Douglas Leiterman, Philip S. Hobel Directors: Peter Thurling
Holding Institution: University of Waterloo, Waterloo (16mm).
Description: All the Guys Ever Want is S.E.X breaks with the focus on middle-class teenagers in suburbs, as was usually the case in sex education films from the 1950s and 1960s. The film features teenagers from diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, as well as with a wide range of positive and negative sexual experiences. Throughout the film, participants share and exchange in discussions with their peers or by themselves ideas about topics such as virginity, abstinence, physical appearance, birth control, love, masturbation, parental opinions, gender-specific stereotypes, and sexual abuse.
Commentary: Especially during the group dialogues, the film documents the natural flow of the teenagers’ discussion and reflection, giving it a cinema verité style, with the camera constantly panning between the different participants discussing these matters in a natural setting. If sex education films from the 1950s and 1960s had their didactic emphasis on teaching teenagers the need to control their feelings and repress their sexual urges, All the Guys Ever Want is S.E.X encourages them to accept their emotions by giving them the space and time to articulate them. In this regard, the film demonstrates that the “sexual revolution” was defined by a generation’s intellectual engagement with sexuality, and not just an increase of sexual acts.
Therapist John Brown provides comments on the topic in the film’s voice-over, emphasizing personal growth and confidence as sexual enjoyment. However, the expert-voice over only appears sporadically throughout the film, and therefore is not as much in the foreground as in similar sex-education films produced in the 1950s and 1960s. In a review in Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, Oliver J. W. Bjorksten, MD concludes: “This film reminds me in many ways of Sol Gordon’s film [famous US-American clinical psychologist and sex educator], About Sex, in both its content and process; however, this film has more superficial vignettes and opinions than Gordon’s film, which uses the same group throughout the discussion. Aside from its technical difficulties, this is a valuable film which would probably be most useful in stimulating group discussion for adolescents who are involved in sex education courses.”
All the Guys Ever Want is S.E.X is of particular interest for gender studies scholars. The film stands out with the openness and frankness with which teenagers from different racial, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds speak about their sexuality and self-understanding. Even though the title implies an emphasis on female experiences, male teenagers also participate in the discussions or share their stories in dedicated sequences that demonstrate that their equally inexperienced and curios to discuss such matters. However, especially in the group discussions it becomes evident how girls begin to vocalise their dissent against their objectification, peer-pressure, and the double standards with which girls are held to different standards of sexual conduct. The scenes documenting group discussions should be of interests for scholars interested in historical, sociological, anthropological approaches to family studies. While sex education films from the 1950s and 1960s often framed parents as the primary educators of children, All the Guys Ever Want is S.E.X in many ways demonstrates a discourse on sexuality among teenagers that sidelines the opinions of parents.
CESIF Link: All the Guys Ever Want Is S.E.X.: Romance, Sex, and Marriage

Les corps érotiques

(1981, French, Colour, Sound, 16mm, 43 mins)
Accession Number: 1981.0012
Producer: Ateliers de sexologie
Holding Institution: Université du Québec à Montreal, Montreal (16mm)
Description: Depicting the physical attraction between a man and a woman in different situations—from flirting to sexual intercourse—Les corps érotiques describes in detail the different stages of an intimate relationship.  
CESIF Link: Les corps érotiques


(1969, English, Colour, Sound, 16mm)
Accession Number: 1969.0218
Producers: Moreland-Latchford Productions; Joe Hayward
Director: Red Lemieux
Related Title: “Family Living and Sex Education” (series)
Description: The film is part of the “Family Living and Sex Education” series. The plot is rather thin and focuses on a conflict among teenagers at a party. Central to the argument is Suzanne who is agitated by the rumours about her spread by a guy she used to date. Even though neither Suzanne nor her friends clearly articulate the kind of rumours, the dialogue implies that her date told lies about how their relationship ended after she had denied his sexual advances. This is further indicated by a scene in which we see him kissing another girl while laying on a sofa—one of the rare depictions of actual sexual acts in sex education movies of that time. The movie ends with Suzanne abruptly leaving the party, disappointed in her friends who claim not to know what she is talking about.
Commentary: Gender and women studies scholars might be interested in the film and its stereotypical depiction of teenage girls as overly emotional, self-conscious, and jealous. Even though the filmmakers may not have intended such a message, Suzanne’s interaction and behaviour with her peers is hard to follow and seems to be driven by irrational impulses rather than reasonable argumentation.
CESIF Link: Dating


(1977, French, Colour, Sound, 12 mins)
Accession Number: 1977.0048
Producer: Productions du treuil
Director: Normand Foster
Holding Institution: Université du Québec à Montréal (16mm, VHS)
Description: Ego addresses female masturbation and sexual fantasies.
CESIF Link: Ego

Family Problems

(1969, English, Colour, Sound, 16mm)
Accession Number: 1969.0220
Producers: Moreland-Latchford Productions; Joe Hayward
Director: Graham Parker
Related Title: “Family Living and Sex Education” (series)
Description: The film is part of the “Family Living and Sex Education” series. The British Film Institute and Online Films and TV Database describes the film’s synopsis as follows: “Having accepted in confidence a burdensome secret involving her older brother, a teenager throws her entire family into turmoil while she tries to decide where her loyalty lies. Intended for secondary schools.”
CESIF Link: Family Problems

Fertility Control

(1966, French, English, Colour, Sound, 16mm)
Accession Number: 1966.0046
Sponsor: Eli Lilly and Co. Canada
Producers: Crawley Films; Michael Crawley
Holding Institution: Library and Archives Canada (16mm)
Description: "The film addresses how birth control pills impact the human body" (author’s translation of LAC description).
CESIF Link: Fertility Control

Glands and Hormones

(1973, English, Colour, Sound, 16mm, 9 mins)
Accession Number: 1969.0200
Producer: Moreland-Latchford Productions
Holding Institution: State Library of New South Wales, Australia (16mm)
Related Title: “Family Living and Sex Education” No.3 (series)
Description: Glands and Hormones is part of the “Family Living and Sex Education” series. Intended for primary and middle schools, the film explains how glands and hormones function during puberty.
CESIF Link: Glands and Hormones

Going Steady

(1969, English, Colour, Sound, 16mm)

Going Steady, 1969

Accession Number: 1969.0219
Producers: Moreland-Latchford Productions; Joe Hayward
Director: Red Lemieux
Related Title: “Family Living and Sex Education” (series)
Description: The film is part of the “Family Living Program” series. Set around an argument among friends that emerges during a house party, the film considers different relationship approaches to teenage dating. It captures opposing opinions about the ups and downs of “going steady” at a young age and taking on the responsibilities that come with a serious partnership on the one hand, and a more lose approach to dating on the other hand. Parents only have a supporting role in guiding their children in Going Steady. They are talking about their dating life without appearing as active advisees. Instead, the teenagers discuss these issues among themselves.
Commentary: Gender, women, and masculinity studies scholars might be interested in Going Steady. The teenagers appear in highly gendered roles in which the guys reinforce gender stereotypes. The girls seem rather passive and mainly concerned about the boys’ opinions. In turn, the boys seem to care relatively little about the girls’ point of view. The film portrays girls as being only concerned about being in a relationship and leaves more serious debates about what it means to be in a relationship in the hands of the guys. However, the boys are dealing with these questions in a very rational manner, talking about perceived ups and downs of “going steady” in relation to money and time. The film presents two extreme binary conceptions of being single and being in a relationship, ultimately providing only two options: going steady or “playing the field.”
CESIF Link: Going Steady

How Much Affection?

(1957, English, Black and White, Sound, 16mm, 20 mins)

How Much Affection?, 1957

Accession Number: 1957.0019
Producers: Crawley Films, George Gorman, McGraw-Hill Book Co.
Director: George Gorman
Holding Institutions: Library and Archives Canada (16mm, VHS, digibeta)
Description: How Much Affection? was produced to accompany the publication Your Marriage and Family Living, written by Paul H. Landis, State Professor of Sociology at the State College of Washington. Landis and Lillian Bilkey, Associate Professor for Family Relations at the State University Teachers College in Plattsburgh, N.Y., functioned as advisors for this film project. The fiction film addresses issues such as love, sexual restraint, teenage pregnancy, and parental sex education within the context of post-war America’s social norms focused on white, middle-class, and gender-conform nuclear families. Mary and Jeff are the main characters in How Much Affection?, which begins with a fight between the couple about the boundaries of their sex life. Mary, unhappy about the sexual advances Jeff made during one of their dates, receives advice from her mother how to behave in these situations and how to practice restraint rather than to give into her emotions and urges. How Much Affection? is typical for sex education films of that time in its propagation of self-control. Often using parents as role models and primary advisors in family planning, the film presents premarital abstinence and a focus on character development as the best route to achieve a fulfilled and successful marriage.
Commentary: The film is of interest family studies scholars, especially in regard to the film’s subplot that illustrates the consequences of early pregnancies. While Jeff and Mary discover their moral compass on time, the film includes a sequence that depicts the miserable life of a teenage couple marked by an unplanned pregnancy and subsequent rushed marriage of convenience. Unhappy and overwhelmed with parental responsibilities, the couple’s fate is characterized by an unloving relationship, shattered dreams, and an abrupt end of adolescence, as well as miserable career prospectus. The movie, then, presents sexual restraint and maturity as the key foundation for a happy and economically secure family. Moreover, scholars in youth and consumer culture could be interested in the depiction of teenage culture in the 1950s.
Watch Online:
CESIF Link: How Much Affection?


(1969, English, Colour, Sound, 16mm)
Accession Number: 1969.0217
Producers: Moreland-Latchford Productions; Joe Hayward
Director: Red Lemieux
Related Title: “Family Living and Sex Education” (series)
Description: The film is part of the “Family Living and Sex Education” series. It focuses on a young high-school couple that would like to get married at the age of 18. However, their plans are met with anger and concerns by their family and friends who think that they are making a mistake. They argue that the young couple is too driven by their initial romantic feelings and physical attraction to each other, and that they do not understand the gravity of a marriage. Thus, they advise the young couple to wait until their education is completed and they have reached more maturity, but also encourage them to date other people. However, the film does not directly address the conflict that made the couple consider a wedding in the first place: negotiating their desire to sleep with each other while being faced with the social norms of sexual abstinence before marriage.
Commentary: Popular culture scholars might be interested in reappearing references to overly romantic and simplified depictions of marriage in media. For instance, in one scene the girl’s best friend urges her to “quit thinking marriage is like a television show,” while in another scene the boy’s father proclaims “movies, television…all stuff full of that romantic garbage.” Such scenes indicate how sex education films took positions against the depiction of intimacy and relationships in popular media. For family studies scholars, changes in the depiction of marriage could be of interest. Whereas sex education films from the 1950s and early 1960s emphasized marriage as the ultimate life goal, Love emphasises the hard work, obstacles, and arguments that come up when you share the rest of the life with each other. This becomes evident in scenes in which parents share their insights into the hardships of their relationships but also from the young couple’s friends and the stories they are sharing about the marriage of their own parents. In terms of gender, the girl is presented as more irrational than the boy, just as in the film Dating from the same series. She initiates the idea of getting married, while it is the boy who recognises that it is not a solution to their problem.
CESIF Link: Love

The Maturing Female

(1969, English, Colour, Sound, 16mm, 13 mins)

The Maturing Female, 1969

Accession Number: 1969.0215
Producers: Moreland-Latchford Productions; Joe Hayward
Director: Graham Parker
Distributors: Sterling Educational Film
Related Title: “Family Living and Sex Education” (series)
Description: The film shows a conversation between 15-year-old friends Kathy and Sue. As we learn in flashbacks, Kathy had an argument with her father about her dating life. Upset about seeing his daughter kissing her date in a car parked in front of the family’s house, he urges his daughter to stay with her group of friends and not be alone with guys. Kathy, however, thinks that she is mature enough and can take care of herself. The open end of the film leaves it to the audience to discuss Kathy’s maturity, what decision she will make, and how one would act and behave in her situation.
Commentary: Gender and masculinity scholars could be interested in the scene in which Kathy’s father discusses with Kathy her dating life. Unlike in other sex education films with similar topics, the father—not the mother—attempts dialogue with his daughter in order to discuss adolescent sexuality. He shares his advice from the point of view of a man, therefore building an argument about the tactics and behavior of teenage boys rather than teaching her how to control her emotions. Whereas other sex education films stage such dialogues between parents and children in more domestic settings—such as living and bedrooms—the conversation between Kathy and her father takes place in a garage, indicating an intention to present the father in a setting associated with masculinity.
Richard Edwards and Bruce E. Gronbeck, University of Iowa, “A Partial List of Educational, Instructional, and Documentary Films Treating Women’s Roles, Problems, and Communication Strategy,” paper presented at the Summer meeting of the Speech Communication Association (1975).
CESIF Link: The Maturing Female

The Menopause Story

(1982, English, Colour, Sound, 16mm, 30 mins)
Accession Number: 1982.0008
Producer: Mobius Productions
Advisors: Christiane Derzko; Judith Golden
Holding Institution: Université du Québec à Montréal, Montreal (16mm)  
Description: "A group of women share their memories and experiences of going through menopause. Christiane Derzko, M.D. and Judith Golden, M.Ed. give professional advice on the physical and emotional challenges of this period in their lives" (author’s translation of UQAM description).
CESIF Link: The Menopause Story

Methods of Family Planning

(1972, English, Colour, Sound, 16mm, 18 mins)
Accession Number: 1972.0060
Producers: Moreland-Latchford Productions; John Churchill
Director: Jan Stean
Holding Institution: Library and Archives Canada (16mm, VHS)
Related Title: “Family Living and Sex Education” (series)
Description: The film is part of the “Family Living and Sex Education” series. Using animations and scenes with couples in counseling sessions about family planning, the film discusses different methods of contraception. Addressed are, among others, the rhythm method, birth control pills, diaphragms, intra-uterine devices, vaginal spermicides, and condoms. The film also presents the methods of vasectomy and tubal ligation.
CESIF Link: Methods of Family Planning

More Common Than Measles and Mumps

(1972, English, French, Colour, Sound, 16mm, 11 mins)
Accession Number: 1972.0053
Producers: Student Animated Producers; Kiloran German; David Grimes
Distributor: National Film Board of Canada/Office national du film du Canada
Holding Institutions: National Film Board of Canada; Library and Archives Canada (16mm)
Related Title: Plus communes que la rougeole et les oreillons (French version)
Description: Animated documentary on venereal diseases produced by young filmmakers for youth sex education programs. Set in a health studies class, two students present their research project on venereal diseases and provide their classmate with information sexually active teenagers should know. Unlike other sex education productions, teenagers themselves, rather than doctors, become experts and informants about sexual health for their peers in the film.
CESIF Link: More Common Than Measles and Mumps

Purposes of Family Planning

(1972, English, Colour, Sound, 16mm, 14 mins)
Accession Number: 1972.0054
Producer: Moreland-Latchford Productions
Director: Hector J. Lemieux
Holding Institution: State Library of New South Wales, Australia (16mm)
Description: Intended for upper secondary schools and adult audiences, the non-fiction film addresses methods of family planning and how to find appropriate counselling in the process.
CESIF Link: Purposes of Family Planning

Physical Aspects of Puberty

(1953, English, Black and White, Sound, 17 mins)

Physical Aspects of Puberty, 1953

Accession Number: 1953.0015
Producer: Crawley Films
Related Titles: “Adolescent Development” (series)
Description: Physical Aspects of Puberty is part of the “Adolescent Development” series. The film addresses the bodily and personality changes adolescents go through during puberty, including the development of primary and secondary sex characteristics. Animations and diagrams visualize boys’ and girls’ body transformation from child to adult. The sober biological facts are further illustrated with fictional scenes that introduce the characters of Jane and John. Both teenagers are struggling with the effects that puberty has on their everyday life. The film covers issues such as lack of coordination, feelings of awkwardness in social situations, the need for physical activity, and emotional unbalance that often becomes evident in conflicts with parents or other authority figures.
A review in Film News (September 1953) described the film as “the least lively of the series,” calling the films animated drawings as a “misnomer for rather static effects.” Still, the review highlighted the potential of the film as an “introduction to any and all of the other four titles [in the series], since it does present the scientific basis for the eccentricities characterizing the overall subject, i.e. Adolescent Development.”
Commentary: The animation art of the human body and the physical transformations occurring during puberty are of interest of scholars researching the visual cultures of medicine and science, as well as scholars more broadly interested in the representation of the body in visual culture. Especially those scenes that depict primary sexual organs stand out with their attempts to negotiate a fine balance between abstraction and accurate representation that enable didactic lessons without affronting viewers with realistic images.
Scholars interested in the history of pedagogy and family studies could be interested in Physical Aspects of Puberty. While the film is informative for teenagers in regard to the physical changes they are going through, its message of sympathy and understanding of teenagers in this time is directed toward parents and teachers. Interestingly, sexuality and sexual desire are not addressed as part of the physical aspects of puberty. Besides a teenage couple who is holding hands, the film does not cover or illustrate issues such as sexual attraction and desires. Hence, the active role parents are supposed in understanding the physical and emotional transformation their children are going through does not involve them guiding them in finding their sexuality.
Rohama Lee, “Pictures Are Made By People…,” Film News (September 1953): 16.
“Physical Aspects of Puberty,” Film News (September 1953): 16.
Dr. Marjorie B. Smiley, “Adolescent Development Series,” Film News (September 1953): 16-17.
Dr. Marjorie B. Smiley and Rohama Lee, “Adolescent Development Series,” Film News (September 1953): 17.
“Guidance Films Enrich Long Island U. Institute,” Film News 18.1 (October 1960): 10.
Watch Online:
CESIF Link: Physical Aspects of Puberty

Sex, Booze and Blues and Those Pills You Use

(1982, English, Colour, Sound, 16mm, 12 mins)
Accession Number: 1982.0010
Producer: Toronto Kinetic Film Enterprises
Directors: Edward Schuman, David. E. Brown
Holding Institution: Université du Québec à Montréal, Montreal (16mm)
Description: Humorous cartoon about the impact of alcohol and other drugs on sexual performances. The film explains how such sexual dysfunctions can be treated as well as eased through reduced alcohol consumption and sobriety.
CESIF Link: Sex, Booze and Blues and Those Pills You Use

Sexuality and Communication

(1971, English, Colour, Sound, 16mm, 55 mins)
Accession Number: 1971.0003
Sponsor: Ortho Pharmaceutical Corp.
Producer: Mobius Productions
Holding Institutions: University of Calgary, Calgary (16mm, DVD); University of Waterloo, Waterloo (16mm); University of Guelph, Guelph (16mm); University of Windsor, Windsor (16mm); Library and Archives Canada (16mm)
Description: Sexuality and Communication addresses different physiological and psychological aspects of heterosexual intimacy and intercourse. The film is roughly divided into two parts, with the first part focusing on a female perspective on sexuality while the second part covers a male perspective. Sexuality and Communication is a recording of a presentation by Drs. Beryl A. and Avinoam B. Chernick at the Ontario Science Centre, authors of such books as In Touch: Putting Sex Back Into Love and Marriage (Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1977). Crucially, unlike in other sex education films, the Chernicks’ role is not reduced to that of medical experts who comment as professionals on human sexuality or as lecturers in the classroom. Instead, they (humorously) highlight the importance of verbal communication in a relationship and deconstruct gender-specific myth about sex by taking on the role of fictional characters Mr. and Mrs. Jones who both talk individually about their sexual frustration with their doctor. Covering issues such as pelvic congestion or premature ejaculation, the message of the married couple and professional collaborators is that effective communication will result in a satisfying sex life and that, consequently, the lack of communication is more often the root of sexual dysfunctions than bodily functions themselves. In this regard, the film follows the idea that sex is as much about communication as it is about sexual acts.
Commentary: Scholars from the fields of gender, masculinity, and women studies could be interested in the scenes focusing on Mr. Jones and Mrs. Jones respectively. For both, the role play covers how his and her sexual identities were formed from an early age by post-war notions of masculinity and femininity. And for both, sexuality, sexual desire, and sexual pleasure beyond reproductive acts are associated with shame. Since the Jones’ present problems are deeply rooted in their youth, the film could also be of interest to childhood scholars. Finally, scholars interested in humour or the history of the medical profession may find interest in the roleplay scenes. As doctors themselves, the Chernick’s use humour to break the ice to talk about intimate feelings and information of the other sex’s body, and also to establish a more approachable image of doctors and medicine without challenging their authority in questions about sexuality. Through their roleplay, doctors appear not as dull lecturers of biological facts but sympathetic consultants. Rather than teaching how to repress emotions, they encouragingly enable patients to reflect on how their feelings impact their health and well-being.
CESIF Link: Sexuality and Communication

Social-Sex Attitudes in Adolescence

(1953, English, Black and White, Sound, 23 mins)
Accession Number: 1957.0016
Producer: Crawley Films
Related Titles: “Adolescent Development” (series)
Description: Social-Sex Attitudes in Adolescence is part of the “Adolescent Development” series, based on Elizabeth Hurlock’s textbook of the same name for college education. The film tells the story of Bob and Mary and the various stages of their sexual educational and development before they start dating each other and get married. While the film is to a certain degree progressive in its encouragement for dating different partners—albeit without encouraging any form of sexual activity or promiscuity—Social-Sex Attitudes in Adolescence nevertheless reaffirms social norms and established gender norms. It presents marriage as the desirable and only socially acceptable form of romantic relationships. The film begins with scenes of Bob and Mary’s wedding, softening their ventures into several adolescents’ development stages and relationships, never leaving any doubt that Bob and Mary are on the right path to establishing a nuclear family.
The magazine Film News describes Social-Sex Attitudes in Adolescence as “in some ways the most outstanding [film in the series], and the one with the widest audience appeal.” However, the same article criticizes the title and describes it as “awkward.” Dr. Marjorie B. Smiley seconds this criticism, wondering “if the presence of the word ‘sex’ does not limit the use of even as fine a film as this one, with certain audiences.” The film ends with several questions for the viewers to discuss. The content of the film and its focus on the advisory role of parents in guiding their children into adulthood, as well as the discussion prompts for the viewer, indicate that the film was produced for a wide audience that could include both teenagers and adults.  
Commentary: Scholars interest in family studies could be interested in the film’s depiction of moments of early sex education by Bob’s and Mary’s mothers. By giving Bob a deceased father, and leaving Mary’s sex education to her mother, the film emphasizes the role of mothers in sex education, providing men only with a supporting role. Queer scholars could be interested in the same-sex crushes in early adolescence that the film depicts, even if such emotions are only referenced in relation to Mary and framed as an innocent phase on the path to a heterosexual identity. Scholars of consumer, youth, and popular culture could be interested in the several sequences depicting Mary and Bob’s social activities that span from dating to sports, culture, and entertainment.
Rohama Lee, “Pictures are Made by People…,” Film News (September 1953): 16.
Dr. Marjorie B. Smiley, “Adolescent Development Series,” Film News (September 1953): 16-17.
“Social-Sex Attitudes in Adolescence,” Film News (September 1953): 17
Dr. Marjorie B. Smiley and Rohama Lee, “Adolescent Development Series,” Film News (September 1953): 17.
“Guidance Films Enrich Long Island U. Institute,” Film News 18.1 (October 1960): 10.
Watch Online:
CESIF Link: Social-Sex Attitudes in Adolescence

Teenage Pregnancy

(1969, English, Colour, Sound, 16mm)
Accession Number: 1969.0216
Producers: Moreland-Latchford Productions; Joe Hayward
Director: Red Lemieux
Related Titles: “Family Living and Sex Education” (series)
Description: Teenage Pregnancy is part of the “Family Living and Sex Education” series. The British Film Institute and Online Films and TV Database describes the film’s synopsis as follows: “The discovery that a teenage daughter is pregnant brings emotional and psychological upheaval to every member of the family. Help and advice is provided by the family doctor. Intended for secondary schools.”
CESIF Link: Teenage Pregnancy

Toi Qui Changes

(1982, French, Colour, Sound, 16mm, 22 mins)
Accession Number: 1982.0006
Sponsor: Canadian Tampax Corp.
Producer: Multimédia audiovisuel Montréal
Holding Institution: Université du Québec à Montréal, Montreal (16mm)
Description: Divided into two parts, the film features teenagers who explain the male and female reproduction organs with the help of animations and models. However, while the first part is addressed to audiences of all gender between the ages of 9-14, the second part primarily addresses girlhood. It focuses on menstruation and features girls speaking in detail about their experience with, and usage of, menstrual protection.
CESIF Link: Toi Qui Changes

The Venereal Diseases

(1930–1939, French, English, Black and White, Silent, 35mm, 26 mins)
Accession Number: 1930.0005
Sponsor: Canadian Social Hygiene Council
Holding Institution: Library and Archives Canada (35mm)
Description: The Canadian Social Hygiene Council produced the film to fight the spread of venereal diseases. The symptoms and effects of venereal diseases such as gonorrhea and syphilis are illustrated and depicted respectively with animations and diagrams, and actual footage.  
CESIF Link: The Venereal Diseases

Your First Six Years

(1968, English, Colour, Sound, 16mm 10 mins)
Accession Number: 1968.0093
Producer: Moreland-Latchford Productions
Holding Institution: State Library of New South Wales, Australia (16mm)
Related Titles: “Family Living and Sex Education” No. 6 (series)
Description: Part of the “Family Living and Sex education” series. The film focuses the first four years of childhood and covers different stages of development.
CESIF Link: Your First Six Years

Non-CESIF Project Films Relevant for Researchers: NFB

  • About Puberty and Reproduction (Ishu Patel 1974, 11 mins). Intended to function as discussion prompt for experts leading discussions on the topic, the silent animated film depicts the physical changes male and female bodies are going through during puberty and also addresses pregnancy and childbirth occurring during puberty. About Puberty and Reproduction
  • Appropriate Actions (Theresa Wynnyk 1998, 28 mins). A documentary film produced as a resource for teachers to discuss student-to-student harassment in classrooms and its legal and social consequences. Appropriate Actions
  • Baby Blues (Annie O'Donoghue 1990, 24 mins). Produced to enable discussion on classrooms about issues such as contraception and family planning, the short fiction film follows a young couple that is forced to think about issues such as abortion and adoption when the girl suspects that she is pregnant. Baby Blues
  • The Burden They Carry (Mort Ransen, 1970, 29 mins). Documentary film that follows Swedish sexologist Maj-Briht Bergström-Walan in her discussions about sexuality with school children and a group of international teenagers. The Burden They Carry
  • Feeling Yes, Feeling No (Moira Simpson 1984, 43 mins). Three-part prevention program to teach children how to protect themselves from sexual abuse by teaching them self-confidence, how to avoid dangers situations, and introduces the issue of abuse through family members. Feeling Yes, Feeling No
  • Good Things Can Still Happen (Liz Scully 1992, 21 mins). The animated film addresses how children cope with sexual abuse and share their experience with friends. Good Things Can Still Happen
  • Karate Kids (Derek Lamb 1990, 21 mins). Aimed at young people in developing countries, the animated short educates about the transmission of HIV as well as live with HIV/AIDS. Karate Kids
  • The Merry-Go-Round (Tanya Tree 1966, 23 mins). The film brings together fiction and non-fiction elements, illustrating the shared knowledge of advice columnist Ann Landers, school principle Mary Winspear, and psychotherapist Albert Ellis with scenes depicting the modern lives of a teenage boy and girl. The Merry-Go-Round
  • Phoebe (George Kaczender 1964, 28 mins). Fiction film that focuses on the pregnant teenager Phoebe and how she imagines potential reactions of her boyfriend, friends and family to the news of her pregnancy. Phoebe
  • Playing for Keeps (Lyn Wright 1990, 48 mins). Documentary about three single mothers in which they share their positive and negative experiences of early motherhood. Playing for Keeps
  • Thinking Positive (Debbie McGee 1993, 23 mins). Documentary about a young woman from Newfoundland, who has been HIV positive since the age of 20, and her sex education work with teenagers that focus on issues such increasing communication with sex partners, resist peer pressure to experiment sexually, and the role of substance abuse in the spread of HIV. Thinking Positive
  • Unsuitable Actions (Theresa Wynnyk 1997, 26 mins). Combines non-fiction and fiction elements to address sexual harassment among students. Unsuitable Actions