Ontario children put at risk with PC government’s sex education decision

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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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8 Comments

  1. Sydney, thank you for taking the time to look up examples and to reach out to see how this is affecting others. Clearly by the Facebook comments on this story there will be people who will disagree with you, but I know there are going to be just as many people (if not more) that believe children should to be equipped with the tools to live safely, with knowledge of bodies and without judgment of others.

    There is a large role for parents in teaching and talking about sexuality and sexual health, but some parents will never have those conversations, and some will present a one-sided view. The revised curriculum was for those kids; they need it the most so that they can feel comfortable in their bodies and be safe. I hope that teachers will continue to talk about consent, about sexual identity, and about the role of social media, regardless of the curriculum.

  2. It is nonsensical that simply cancelling a new sex ed curriculum “puts children at risk”. A risk that the government will now have less control over the minds of our children? Parents have the right and the responsibility to educate their children on a variety of subjects. The government has no right to attempt to fill their heads with what the government deems appropriate (and is, in reality, propaganda). Governments are frequently amoral and my sympathies are totally with those who do not desire that kind of training for their children, in contravention to their own moral teachings.

  3. Thank you for keeping us updated on this latest issue Sydney. As a child and youth Registered Psychotherapist in Huntsville I can confirm that many youth are not getting relevant sex education from home.

    Whether it’s because they choose to not listen to their parent/guardian, or their parent/guardian doesn’t provide it, youth’s #1 source of info is peers.

    Being provided wih the most up to date info (including things like sexting and cyber bullying) is vital to their mental health, but ALSO vital so they can influence their peers with the RIGHT information.

    Like it or not, our youth teach our youth about sex and related issues. Let’s make sure they teach the right stuff!

    • Just more of government “professional” thinking that they can do a better job of raising our children than we can. This gets into many issues that impact child rearing. Some child advocates feel that one of the problems of our current practices is that children are forced into peer group relationships at such an early age that the peer group supplants the parental-child relationship. We wonder why our children are so “immature” (read foolish and inexperienced) when, throughout the history of mankind, the parent-child bond was the single greatest influence in bringing the child into the world of adults. The rapidly growing home school movement is a reaction to the governmental usurpation of parental rights and the disruption of the parent-child relationship.

  4. Dale Peacock on

    Replacing the current sex-ed curriculum with a 20-year-old version was a move to please social conservatives, and it does have the potential to hurt kids. The 2015 sex-ed curriculum includes warnings about online bullying and sexting, same-sex marriage, gender identity, consent and masturbation. The 1998 version includes none of the aforementioned.

    4,000 parents, 2,400 educators, 700 students, 170 organizations including CAMH over ten years went into writing the 2015 curriculum, so Mr. Ford saying there wasn’t enough consultation is talking trash. That’s plenty of consultation.

    As to teaching sex education being the exclusive purvey of parents – well, parents have historically done a terrible job at that. It seems to me that often those parents who most object to honest, open, relevant discourse with their children really want there to be no conversation until the kids are well past the age of actually needing it.

    I grew up in an era when sex was not talked about – not at home and not very well at school either. The individual stories of girls and women affected by this ignorance are chilling and tragic. There is no age that is ‘too young’ to learn (in an age-appropriate way) about our bodies, our sexuality, our differences and our rights.

    While this is merely anecdotal, at a recent gathering we were discussing this subject. One guest asked how the others had learned about sex: one man said he pieced it together through ‘dirty’ jokes and working on the family farm as a young boy. Another said that an older boy ‘taught her.’ Another thought that not-so-well hidden Playboy Magazines did the trick while another sadly added that a teen pregnancy taught her all she needed to know. Is this what we want for our kids?

    The ‘good old days’ imagined by social conservatives weren’t actually very good at all. As Ms. Armstrong aptly sums it up, “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.”

  5. Lynn Crowder on

    I agree with Sydney. This is a terrible decision by the provincial government. Although it would be nice to think that parents have the ability to teach their children about sex, we know from experience that it is not done by many. Many parents were not taught themselves….or sex has been coated with heaps of cultural mystery. It is another short-sighted decision to appease people who are afraid of change. And in the end we end up hurting our children, by not providing them with the tools they need to master their own lives.

  6. Patrick Flanagan on

    Many readers of this thread voted for Ford. To get a balanced discussion, would one of you please explain why you believe this change is positive for the people of Ontario.

  7. An informative article/point of view concerning what many regard as a very regressive decision made by the Ford government this past week, around which there are many diverse opinions. I wonder how many have actually read or glanced over the 239-page curriculum document released in 2015 entitled ‘The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8, Health and Physical Education.’ If you have some time to get informed, even a read of pages 3-39 is well worth it. And yes, the significant role of parents as ‘primary educators’ is mentioned and developed (pp.13-14). Sensitivity to ‘family values, religious beliefs, or other social or cultural norms’ is also stressed’ (p.36). ‘Abstinence’ is mentioned under the heading of ‘Human Development and Sexual Health (p.38). Here’s the link to the so-called 2015 ‘Sex-Ed Document’: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/health1to8.pdf

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