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'I am incensed': Specialist, advocate vent frustration over N.B. premier's post

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It’s been three days since New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs lashed out at a presentation done by Teresa Norris and she’s still upset about it.

“I am incensed that the premier hasn’t even seen my presentation and he’s responding to one slide out of context,” said Norris.

Norris is the founder and president of HPV Global Action, a sexual health awareness and education organization based out of Montreal.

She says she has been doing the same presentation at dozens of New Brunswick schools for a decade and her work is vetted by the Department of Education in advance.

But Higgs blasted a presentation done by her at a New Brunswick high school last week, saying a number of parents shared with him photos of what he called “clearly inappropriate” material used during a presentation last week.

"To say I am furious would be a gross understatement," wrote Higgs on X, formerly Twitter.

Higgs said in his post the presentation was not part of the province’s curriculum, but Norris says that’s false.

“Where we get our information, the fact that we’re evidence-based, the topics that we’re covering, all these things were looked at,” said Norris. “I don’t like being put in a situation where it’s making us look like our organization is providing inappropriate information to students, or to anybody. That’s something I want rectified.”

Effective immediately, the group will not be permitted to present again at any schools in the province, said Higgs.

CTV News requested an interview with Higgs or Education Minister Bill Hogan or for a statement, but did not hear back from the province.

Higgs said his office was told the presentation was supposed to be on HPV, a sexually transmitted infection that can cause cancer in some cases.

“However, the group shared materials well beyond the scope of an HPV presentation,” said Higgs in Friday’s post.

Norris says at no point was anybody under the illusion she was going to talk about one specific thing.

Retired teacher and LGBTQ+ advocate Gail Costello called the post by Higgs irresponsible, dangerous, harmful and divisive.

Costello said her first reaction was it didn’t make any sense.

“When we started seeing there was more to it we realized that he had cherry-picked the front cover of a very important presentation that was being made to students,” said Costello. “And that front cover was actually quotes directly from students that students had asked sexual health experts.”

Norris said she was at four New Brunswick high schools last week, but declined to say which ones.

The provincial government wouldn’t name them, either.

Norris was asked if her organization is considering taking legal action over the matter.

“We’re taking this one day at a time right now,” said Norris. “We’re willing to defend that this is a very appropriate presentation for New Brunswick and we are going to hope that we can work with the Department of Education like we have so far to rectify and to speak to some of these concerning issues so that we can get back on track. We’re looking for resolve, not further problems.”

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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