I have no quarrel with new Ontario Premier Doug Ford wanting to keep his election promises, but I do wonder how much thought he has given some of them.
He is dumping cap and trade, which simply means he is turning it over to the federal government to impose. I think he would have more control over how it would affect Ontario by being inside the tent rather than now being on the outside.
And then we have his Conservative government ditching the sex-ed curriculum that was put in place in 2015, reverting to the curriculum that had not seen any changes since 1998 and which does not include such topics as same-sex marriage and online safety.
The change is to be made for the new school year.
“The sex-ed component is going to be reverted back to the manner in which it was prior to the changes that were introduced by the Liberal government,” Lisa Thompson, the province’s new Education Minister, said. “We’re going to be moving very swiftly in our consultations, and I will be sharing with you our process in the weeks to come.”
By consultation I gather she means with faith groups and social conservative family organizations, those who balked at the new curriculum and who naturally will agree with the new government’s plans.
On sex-ed I don’t.
The sex-ed curriculum adopted in 2015 was long overdue because of the rapid changes in society. Children coming up today are miles ahead in terms of learning and understanding than those of only 20 or 30 years ago.
We should be going forward to accommodate them, not taking steps backward.
During the election campaign, Ford said many parents felt “ignored” when the curriculum was rolled out.
But the Liberal government of the day said at the time that it had consultations that included educators, experts and one parent from each of the province’s 4,000 elementary schools.
And opponents of the new curriculum certainly had their say, making it clear that they felt it was
age-inappropriate, arguing that lessons on gender identity, same-sex marriage and masturbation should be provided by parents.
Yet I wonder how many parents actually do provide this education.
I know I wasn’t one of them. I wasn’t taught anything by my parents and I must admit I didn’t feel qualified to teach my children.
Therefore I would have been happy to have those with training do it for me.
Chris Markham, executive director of OPHEA, a not-for-profit organization that pushed the Ontario government to update its curriculum, told The Globe and Mail back in May that, “If parents could just take the time to sit down and look through the curriculum, I think they would be calmed.”
I think they would too.
In Grade 1 the curriculum calls for the identifying “of body parts, including genitalia (such as penis, testicles, vagina, vulva), using correct terminology.”
In Grade 3, it describes how “visible differences (such as skin, hair and eye colour, facial features, body size and shape, physical aids or different physical abilities, clothing, possessions) and invisible differences (including learning abilities, skills and talents, personal or cultural values and beliefs, gender identity, sexual orientation, family background, personal preferences, allergies and sensitivities) make each person unique, and identify ways of showing respect for differences in others.”
In Grade 6, it identifies “factors that affect the development of a person’s self-concept (including environment, evaluations by others who are important to them, stereotypes, awareness of strengths and needs, social competencies, cultural and gender identity, support, body image, mental health and emotional well-being, physical abilities).”
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who also heads the Official Opposition in the Ontario Legislature, criticized the government’s decision to revert to the old curriculum, saying the current document is more responsive to the issues students face today.
“Going backwards in terms of keeping our kids safe and giving them the information they need to stay safe is not the right direction for the kids of this province,” she told reporters.
Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, was also quoted as saying the move “shows an absolute lack of understanding of student realities in 2018 by the Ford government and the Minister of Education.”
Cathy Abraham, president of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, said that in 1998 there was no discussion in schools about consent or sexting. “There are pieces of the curriculum that back in 1998 wouldn’t have been there because it hadn’t become a thing yet,” she said. “This is about the safety of our children.”
But Tanya Granic Allen, whom Mr. Ford removed as a Progressive Conservative candidate over homophobic statements and who has been a vocal opponent of the sex-ed program, praised the government’s move.
“The Minister of Education needs to require all teachers not to teach children any of the age-inappropriate or culturally insensitive parts of the current curriculum. At the top of the list, children should not be taught the “unscientific and controversial gender theory,” said Ms. Granic Allen, who heads the group Parents as First Educators.
In other words, ignore everything that has been going on around us on this issue for the past 20 years or more.
I believe Ford made the wrong move, that he has listened to the wrong people and he, like U.S. President Donald Trump, who is attempting to undo everything former President Barack Obama did, might be caught up in attempting to undo everything the previous Liberal government did.
I would suggest Ford and his minions interview some of the students who have been taught under the new sex-ed curriculum as well as their parents to get a better handle on how it has gone over.
Whatever the outcome, I believe that the sex-ed curriculum put in place in 2015 should stand.
It will give students the information they need, information I will bet in the majority of cases they are not getting at home.