Students lose power along with sex ed

 In Opinion

The Progressive Conservative government is keeping its promise to “replace the entirety of Ontario’s [2015] sex ed curriculum with an age-appropriate one that is based on real consultation with parents.”

As students went back to school this week, parents and teachers alike were wondering what the year would bring. The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario has been outspoken this week against the change and a so-called snitch line, a reporting tool for anyone who wants to report a teacher using too many anatomical names. 

Names of reproductive body parts, conversations about consent, gender identity, masturbation and what happens during puberty are included in what’s ending up on the cutting room floor as elementary school teachers are instructed to stick to an interim curriculum while a public consultation exercise is underway to try to figure out where to go from here. 

The government is promising a thorough end-to-end consultation with parents over the coming months. Preparations are already underway with consultations scheduled to begin this fall.

The problem is that there was consultation during the creation of the new sex ed curriculum. 

There is a huge divide on this issue. Some people are thoroughly opposed to any kind of talk of sex in the classroom. Be it for religious or cultural reasons, they don’t want their children learning about sexuality in school. On the other end of the spectrum there are very liberal parents who are probably already talking about sex at home. The children who benefit the most from a modern and inclusive sex ed probably fall between to two. Those who are not getting the information they need, or they are getting information that is inaccurate. Maybe they live in a family or community that is making them feel like they aren’t “normal” and count on a conversation about sexuality to help create context for their feelings.

One would hope that a more modern sex ed curriculum would also help empower girls and boys alike so they didn’t feel pressured to engage in sex before they are ready and that they know all about the risks of pregnancies and STIs. The stripped back version doesn’t even address HPV specifically, yet students are being vaccinated for it in Grade 7. 

If knowledge is power, students are losing their power by the day – the power to say no, be safe, be guilt-free and stay healthy. 

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario is fighting the decision to reverse advancement in sexual education announcing they are going to court.

Voters put Doug Ford in office and he is fulfilling a promise to revert from the 2015 sex ed curriculum, so here we are. 

Perhaps a middle ground can be found between liberal and conservative views on sex ed, keeping the best interest of students in mind.

It will be up to citizens to participate in that consultation and have their say. 

 

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