Sue Johanson, Canadian Sex Education Pioneer, Dead at 93

The nurse and broadcast host was known for her humorous and frank approach to sex education

Sue Johanson, Canada’s best-known sex educator, died on Thursday at 93, according to reports by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Johanson died in a long-term care home outside of Toronto, surrounded by her family, CBC reports.

The registered nurse dedicated her professional life to destigmatizing sex and promoting safe sex practices, and her straightforward, nonjudgmental approach made her a beloved sexpert in Canada and beyond.

She shot to fame in 1984 as the host of the Canadian call-in radio program Sunday Night Sex Show, which then became a television show and later led to a successful 2002 American spinoff called Talk Sex With Sue Johanson.

After working as a nurse for many years, Johanson established the Don Mills Birth Control Clinic in 1970, where she was the clinic coordinator for 16 years. She also wrote three books on sexuality and toured Canadian schools, where she spoke to thousands of teens and young adults.

Her popularity stemmed from her unconstrained approach to discussions of sex, pleasure and sexuality, along with her sharp wit and medical credibility. From contraception and teen pregnancy to sex toys and masturbation, no topic was too taboo for Johanson, despite angry phone calls and write-ins from those who disagreed with her.

She was awarded with the prestigious Order of Canada in 2000 for her sex education and advocacy work. The recognition is the country’s second-highest honor a civilian can receive.

In her award announcement, she was praised for her candor and for “listening without judgment.”

The educator was immortalized in the 2022 Canadian documentary Sex with Sue, directed by Lisa Rideout, who said in a statement on Thursday that Johanson had a “positive impact on millions of people around the world.”

“To know, meet, listen or watch Sue was to connect with her,” Rideout continued. “Canada has lost a national treasure but Sue’s legacy will continue to make positive change for decades to come. We love you Sue.”

Johanson had three children, and her daughter Jane Johanson spoke with CBC News Network on Thursday, praising her mother and her impact.

“My mom was amazing,” Johanson said. “She could be anywhere at any time, and people would recognize her voice. She never brushed people aside. She treated everyone absolutely the same. She was never judgmental, nor was she condescending or disapproving of any question that came her way.”

“I think everybody felt like they had another mother or another grandmother with Sue.”

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