Ford Government Standing its Ground on Sex-Ed Curriculum

By Carrie Gilkison, Epoch Times
August 17, 2018 Updated: August 17, 2018

Although political opposition to Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s plan to repeal the province’s controversial 2015 sex education curriculum continues, the Ford government is standing its ground.

Amid union, political, and interest-group backlash against the repeal, some teachers have indicated they wanted to keep the 2015 curriculum upon the return to school in September, regardless of the government stipulating that the 1998-2014 curriculum be used until a new one is crafted that is based on broad consultations with the public.

On Aug. 13, the teacher’s union, Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, said it would “vigorously defend” any teacher who teaches content from the 2015 curriculum, and the following day held a rally against Ford’s repeal outside Queen’s Park. Six families who have LGBQT children are attempting to legally challenge the repeal as well, requesting expedited hearings to change the course of things before September.

There is no sign, however, that the government will be swayed from seeking feedback from the people of Ontario, which encompasses individuals in the aforementioned groups as well.

Ford has said Ontarians weren’t adequately consulted before the previous government implemented its new curriculum. Only one selected parent per school was given a survey, and this was after the curriculum had already been developed. Ford says he himself is aware of parents who are “dead set against” the 2015 curriculum, and who are keeping their kids out of school because of it.

“We’re going to have the largest consultation across this province, in all 124 ridings,” he said in the last summer session. “We’re going to do something the NDP don’t believe in: we’re going to consult with parents, we’re going to consult with teachers, we’re going to consult with experts. We’re going to get the parents’ opinion and from there, that’s where we’re going to move forward.”

This week, The Epoch Times hit the streets once again to hear from the public on the sex-ed topic, and what they think should or shouldn’t be taught—and by whom.

Providing More Information

Matthew D., an engineer, said that while parents should be the ones guiding their children, schools could inform parents of current issues facing a particular child in order to support the family to in turn support the child.

“I think the school should be informing the parents or the guardians of the more informal threats,” he said adding that parents could then be proactive about such pitfalls.

He said the parent “knows the kid the best,” so when it comes to issues like sexual orientation and cyberbullying, the parents should be informed so that they are aware and can help their child.

He noted that there’s a line that differentiates educational providers and parents, and there’s a line that differentiates who’s right and who’s wrong. He said it should be up to the parents to make that call, and to make their child feel secure by being aware of issues facing kids.

A child is taught by a teacher for eight months and then they move on, he said, while the relationship between a child and his or her parents lasts a lifetime.

Some Things are Better Left Unsaid

David C., who works in outreach and writing, said that when it comes to sex education, some things are better left unsaid until children get older.

“I think that the sex-ed curriculum should be minimal and I think that children of that age in primary grades should learn very little and should wait until later in high school,” he said.

“Graphic images should not be included, or detailed explanations of intercourse and so on. I don’t think any of that should be included.”

He said it is good that the provincial government will open the doors for parents’ input.

“I think it’s a great idea. I think parents—one of their major responsibilities is to protect their children. … Parents have experience and they have knowledge and I think that reaching out to the parents to get their input and advice and suggestions is a good idea.”

‘There should be lessons to not watch those things’

Ali said schools have a role to play in sex education because nowadays kids are being exposed to a lot of unsavoury things online, such as pornography.

“I think there should be lessons to not watch those things, and tell [the children] it’s because it hurts your soul, it hurts your mental wellbeing, he said.

He added that at high school age, when kids are about to begin dating, “there should be other lessons” such as how to “[date] properly, and to not get hurt.”

Ali said the curriculum should cover ethical issues such as to not hurt others, not treat people casually by “playing around,” to be honest, and to respect others.

“To help lay the foundation for values is not something that should just be left up to anyone,” he said.

‘It shouldn’t be forced’

Marcus said parents should be given the option to opt out of a sex-ed curriculum if they don’t want it or don’t agree with what it teaches.

“It shouldn’t be forced,” he said.

“It’s a contradiction that it must be forced upon people to take on a curriculum [that talks about consent]. If it’s not meeting them where they’re at, or if it’s making them feel uncomfortable … I think they should be respected. I think everyone should be respected in that way.”

He said that finding the best approach is complicated “because you have so many different issues.”

“But notwithstanding that fact, I still think that the responsibility ultimately relies or rests upon parents to instill the values that they would like to instill in their children,” he said.

“I think that it’s a very intimate experience to teach children or to give children values. To help lay the foundation for values is not something that should just be left up to just anyone.”

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

Additional reporting by May Ning, Paula Liu, and Emily Chian.

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