As children across Ontario prepare to return to school next week, some groups say the PC government’s interim sex-education curriculum doesn’t go far enough in getting rid of some of the more controversial topics from the previous government’s curriculum.
Premier Doug Ford promised during the election that he would repeal the Wynne government’s curriculum until province-wide consultations could be conducted and a new curriculum created—a move that was denounced by the NDP and Liberals but drew praise from parents who were against the 2015 curriculum.
Meanwhile, a revised version of the 2010 sex-ed curriculum is to be taught, but it’s also not satisfactory, says Jack Fonseca of the Campaign Life Coalition.
“[The interim curriculum] has retained some of the more controversial elements of the Kathleen Wynne sex curriculum, including the theory of gender identity, and that’s a very serious problem. That’s not what we voted for and it goes against the wishes of parents,” Fonseca says.
“We’re glad that it has some of the things removed like masturbation and a couple of other things that parents objected to,” he adds, “but the most dangerous thing of all is still there which is teaching the theory of gender identity, which is anti-scientific and harmful to children.”
On Aug. 24, the Toronto District School Board issued a statement saying “we expect all educators to teach the 2010 Health and Physical Education Curriculum (Grades 1-8).” The HPE curriculum includes sex education.
Some controversial topics remain in the 2010 curriculum but are now covered under “prompts” as opposed to “expectations.” “Prompts” refer to suggested teacher responses to questions that students may ask, and they are not required content that students are expected to learn.
Education Minister Lisa Thompson said in the legislature on July 16 that certain parts of the previous government’s curriculum would remain, while the portion being replaced deals with “developing sexual relations.”
“That’s the part in the curriculum that we’ll be taking a look at,” she said.
Tanya Granic Allen, president of Parents as First Educators, says the definitions of gender and gender identity that appear in Thompson’s interim curriculum amount to nothing more than the “liberal ideology” that Ford criticized earlier this year.
“The Wynne sex-ed will continue to be taught this fall to high school students. There has been absolutely no repeal there. Gender identity theory is still present. This is of grave concern to parents,” she said in a press release.
Changes to Ontario’s sex-education curriculum have drawn controversy since 2010, when the then-Liberal government’s plan to update the 1998 curriculum by teaching younger grades about topics such as masturbation, anal intercourse, oral sex, and the idea that being male or female is merely a “social construct” drew such backlash that the plan was shelved.
That same curriculum was put in place in 2015 by the Wynne government, again drawing an outcry from parents who were concerned that these topics were being taught at too young an age. There were several protests against it, and some parents even kept their children out of school.
Fonseca says parents are also planning to protest against the interim curriculum, “and there are other plans in the works as well.”
“We cannot give up the fight. Parents must not give up the fight for the sake of their children,” he says. “We cannot allow this interim child sexualization curriculum to stand, either.”