Ford Continues to Face Pressure From Opposition About Sex-Ed Curriculum

As September looms, Torontonians weigh in on the role of government vs family in sex education debate
By Carrie Gilkison, Epoch Times
August 10, 2018 Updated: August 10, 2018

Ontario Premier Doug Ford continues to face pressure from the opposition New Democrats to back down on his already fulfilled campaign promise to repeal the 2015 sex education curriculum, put in place by former premier Kathleen Wynne.

During question period on Aug. 9, NDP MP Catherine Fife accused Ford of jeopardizing students’ safety by bringing back the 1998-2015 curriculum starting in September.

“Every day, people are speaking out more and more about the premier’s dangerous plan to drag students back to 1998,” she said. “Why is this premier not interested in protecting the health and human rights of all Ontarian students?”

“What puts our children at risk is when we don’t consult the parents and we listen to a bunch of politicians, we listen to a bunch of activists—that’s what puts out children at risk,” Ford countered.

Parents weren’t adequately consulted in the crafting of the 2015 curriculum, Ford says, and said he plans to do a broad consultation across the province in all 124 ridings.

He said that in some of those ridings, people are “dead set against” the 2015 curriculum. “They are actually keeping their kids out of school,” he said.

With September fast approaching and contention over the issue continuing to simmer, The Epoch Times hit the streets to talk with Torontonians about their views on sex education in the province’s schools.

‘I just don’t think it’s a good use of taxpayers’ money’

Timo, an ESL teacher, said he thinks such a detailed sex-ed curriculum may not be necessary and isn’t the best use of tax dollars.

“I think it takes a lot of money and planning. It takes a lot of energy to make the curriculum itself and to funnel that out to the teachers. and tell them to teach it. It just takes a lot of time and energy and I just don’t think it’s a good use of taxpayers’ money,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s necessary for the government to go into detail about sexual things. They can leave it up to the parents to teach the details. I think the current curriculum has too much detail in there for high school students and so on.”

He added, however, that there are issues that high school students need to know about, such as sexually transmitted diseases and other risks, but feels the government is “just spending too much time and money on everything.”

“I don’t think they have the trust of the parents and of the community at large right now.”

The Traditional Family

Vivian L., originally from China, has children who are 10 years apart. One was educated with the 1998 curriculum and one with the 2015 curriculum.

Several months ago, while the 2015 curriculum was still in place, she said her 10-year-old son’s teacher sent parents a permission slip for what would be taught. Only puberty was mentioned, and she was fine with that.

But one day her son came home from school and asked a question that took her aback.

“Mom, the teacher said a man could marry a man and a woman could marry a woman. Is that true?” Vivian recounted her son saying.

“It was something that made me a little bit shocked,” she said, adding that she was surprised because the education plan only mentioned puberty and because what the teacher taught didn’t reflect traditional family values—something that’s very important to her.

She said she explained to her son what constitutes a traditional family, “with a mom, dad, and children,” and how traditional families benefit society and foster social stability.

“Actually, such a family has been part of history for thousands of years,” she said.

Vivian believes teaching same-sex marriage has “totally changed” the traditional family concept. “It undermines the cornerstone of our society.”

She added that traditionally, sexuality is simply a private aspect of building a family within marriage and doesn’t need to involve the government.

‘Not everybody is the same culture or religion’

Jermain M said that it is important that parents be the ones nurturing worldviews in their children rather than teachers, especially given the wide variety of cultures in Canada. He sees risks in a curriculum that steps into what has historically been a family domain.

“Our sexual curriculum has always been very standard—basic birds and bees. But I think opening it up to different perspectives may [clash] with some of those religions and cultures, and I don’t agree with that.”

He pointed out some modern, dogmatic elements that were incorporated into the 2015 curriculum.

“Especially getting into that LGBQ community stuff and touching on those topics, and touching on topics of premarital sex—I think those things really need to be left alone, from a curriculum standpoint.”

Exercising Caution

Noel said that when it comes to sex education, caution must be exercised to make sure it’s age-appropriate.

“It might be damaging to [children],” he said. “Instead of giving them what you think is good, you’ve got to wait until a certain time, not to shove it down their throat prematurely.”

He said parents have the right, not schools, to decide what kids learn about sex education, and that parents who are worried their kids will be inculcated against their family values and family culture have a choice.

“You tell the school not to put your kid in that class. It’s for you to decide when’s the time they’re ready.”

He said it is the family’s right, not the government’s, to choose how to teach children.

Editor’s note: Some interviewees preferred that their full name not be used.

Additional reporting by May Ning.

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