Growing up in a home where sex was absolutely never discussed, I relied on the sex education taught to us in elementary and high school.
If you haven’t already read or seen it in the news, the Ontario PC party has announced that the newly reformed sex-ed curriculum that was implemented in 2015 will revert to the old version, which has not been updated since 1998. Ultimately, this means that issues around gender identity, sexting, cyber bullying, consent and same-sex marriage will no longer be taught in schools.
A lot has happened since 1998. It was a time when same-sex marriage wasn’t legal, smart phones didn’t exist and the term ‘cyber-bullying’ wasn’t even coined.
When Premier Ford was discussing his platforms during the election, he mentioned this as one of the things he wanted to change. Little did I know they could actually get away with this and that it would happen so soon in their term.
I cannot put into words how shocked and scared I am for our youth. Denying children access to education that teaches them the proper name for body parts, the failure to equip them with LGBTQ knowledge and terminology, and ignoring the crucial role consent plays in relationships, denies children their safety.
I spoke to a peer of mine who has expressed his passion toward the subject through social media and asked him what the reform will mean for our children. His response demonstrates exactly why we cannot let this happen.
“I think this reform is going to confuse the children who have undergone sexual education under the Liberal government, and it’s setting our social progression back in time,” he said. “I feel like it’s going to stagnate or even worsen our teen STI, pregnancy, and sexual assault statistics; and more personally to me, I feel it’s going to be a detriment to the mental health of LGBTQ youth.”
Having been a high school student just six years ago, I can tell you that none of these topics were broached, let alone taught in detail.
The following topics are what the PCs were opposed to in the 2015 reform and which will be eliminate from the curriculum now:
* The proper names for body parts, a topic that has been advocated for by child-abuse investigators (Grade 1)
* Changes to the body during development and the concept that “no means no” (Grade 2)
* Same-sex relationships and the dangers of online bullying and the posting of sexual images (Grade 3 and 4)
* Masturbation, gender expression and consent (Grade 6)
* The risks of “sexting”or about contraception, preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (Grade 7)
* The gender spectrum: male, female, two-spirited, transgender, transsexual and intersex (Grade 8)
I can honeslty say that had these topics been taught when I was in school, my teen years would have been much safer. If I had known about the importance of consent, and that not saying “no” outright does not mean yes, I would have been able to shield myself from numerous unhealthy and dangerous incidents.
As many of our community members are aware, Huntsville holds the disappointing statistic of the fourth highest number of unfounded sexual assault cases in the entire country.
I reached out to sex educator Julie S. Lalonde who recently visited grade 8 schools in the community to speak about consent and asked her, what do you think the most important thing that the community of Huntsville should know about the curriculum reform?
She responded, “The 1998 curriculum doesn’t mention the word consent once. If you think the unfounded is bad now; if you think women don’t report now; it’s only going to get worse.”
Today’s children are the beneficiaries of the hard work of LGBTQ and feminist activists. By implementing this repeal, we are moving two decades in the wrong direction.
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