Opinion Editorial

Editorial

Sex ed in Ontario schools, the sequel

(Fotolia)

(Fotolia)

Premier Kathleen Wynne will introduce a controversial sex education curriculum into Ontario elementary schools in September 2015.

Controversial because the last time the Liberal government tried to do this in 2010 — when Wynne was education minister from 2006 to early 2010 — it botched it so badly then premier Dalton McGuinty killed it.

McGuinty cancelled its implementation just hours after his own cabinet ministers had vigorously defended the new curriculum, which called for teacher-led discussions of topics such as masturbation, oral and anal sex and homosexuality by Grade 8.

He said the province hadn’t consulted enough with parents, even though his own government insisted it had consulted with the public for two years.

In fact, few parents had heard of the new curriculum until critics, led by Charles McVety, president of Canada Christian College, started campaigning against it.

This time, Wynne’s government says it will have 4,000 hand-picked parents chosen by school principals participate in an online survey on the sex education curriculum before it is introduced.

Most are expected to be the chairs of school councils.

But their purpose, other than providing a rubber stamp of approval, seems unclear.

That because while selected parents will be asked their views about issues related to the new sex education curriculum, Education Minister Liz Sandals has already said that’s unlikely to lead to any changes.

Nor will the province inform all parents about the contents of the new curriculum, which will be left up to individual schools.

Thus it’s hardly surprising the government is again being criticized for not meaningfully consulting parents.

This time, opposition is being spearheaded by an organization called Parents As First Educators (PAFE).

It has launched a petition objecting to what PAFE President Teresa Pierre calls the “graphic” revision of the sex education curriculum.

In fairness, the province hasn’t formally updated this curriculum since 1998, although in the 2010 controversy many teachers said the new content wasn’t much different from what was already being taught in schools.

It’s obvious the Wynne Liberals now want to appear to be consulting with parents while limiting the scope of that consultation and placing restrictions on which parents will be consulted.

Given that, they should expect a similar controversy to the one in 2010.​


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