Wednesday, 25 February 2015

No Sex Ed, please... we're from Ontario!

Just thinking off the top of my head… about a new sex education curriculum in Ontario.
7 points...  Which are not necessarily the views of my Church, my congregation or even the majority of my friends (although they might be).  Just me thinking with a keyboard in front of me...

1.      It is the duty of the opposition to “oppose” programs and policies put forth by the Government, so I have no problem with the Tories pushing back.  However, opposition should be free of personal attacks.  I will note that the most blatant bit of attack innuendo blew up in MPP McNaughton’s face.  McNaughton:  “it’s not the premier of Ontario’s job — especially Kathleen Wynne — to tell parents what is age-appropriate for their children.”  
Wynne: “What is it that especially disqualifies me for the job that I’m doing? Is it that I’m a woman? Is it that I’m a mother? Is it that I have a master’s of education? Is it that I was a school council chair? Is it that I was the minister of education?” Wynne said in the house, staring down the Tory MPP.

2.       Families should be consulted on changes in curriculum.  However, there is also a time for experts to weigh in and be respected for their expertise.   I have heard more than one person talk about the “Gay Agenda” and the power of suggestion that will make our children “choose” to be gay.  These people are not experts.  I refuse to believe in a “Gay Agenda” mostly because most of my friends in the LGBTQ community can’t agree on anything… from whom to vote for, to theology, public transportation and whether or not Neil Patrick Harris was a good or terrible Oscar Host.   

      And as for sexuality and expression of self, how is that we are still talking about choice?  You do not choose to be a Lesbian, you simply are… it might take time for you to authentically express yourself because of the pressure put on you to conform to a certain “norm” within the community (or family), but you don’t choose to be gay.  Personally, with my love of Musical Theatre, women’s shoes, Judy Garland and Cher, my long association with the Antique business and career in the United Church, do you think that I CHOSE to be heterosexual?   It is who I am, and no amount of "persuasion" is going to change that.  We are who we are… and it’s the people who can’t seem to grasp this reality that underlie the need for a new curriculum.   Maybe, if we were able to broaden or eliminate the definition of “Normal” we could save a lot of very good people a lot pain and suffering.

3.       I've heard it said that we shouldn't allow the State to be in charge of something so personal and important as Sex Education.  I agree completely – that’s why I have never supported prayer in school.  If it is important to you, then pray with your children, don’t leave it to Mr. Weatherby to provide spiritual guidance to your children over the school P.A. system.   If you don’t like the Ontario Sex Education curriculum, then opt out and do a better job at home – that is an option. Take it.
However, there are great many parents who do not have the time, the skill or the inclination to take up this task responsibly, so someone’s got to do it – as a matter of public health, at least.

4.       I've heard it said that Grade Three is too young an age to hear about homosexuality.  Really?  
      "But my friend Timmy has two Dads and Rachel has two Moms… and I think that Johnny’s Mom used to be a Dad…  "  
      Should we simply tell them not to worry their pretty little heads over such puzzles until they’re older?  
      And never mind the kids who come from Cisgendered Heterosexual parents, what about the kids who come from the variety of family constructs that include same sex couples… should we keep them away from show and tell, force them to make Father’s Day Cards from their Moms and just keep them quiet until they’re old enough to understand the songs of Cole Porter?   I assume that most children, by the time they are in Grade Three, have been exposed to television and probably the internet.  So, they are seeing Tide commercials with gay couples, television shows and characters that present different expressions of family and sexuality, they are meeting transgendered people in the world around them and through media; they might even have a transgendered minister!  We are already trying to explain to little Tiffany why “Anaconda” is not a good choice for the grade three talent show and why Daddy thinks that “Blurred Lines” is a terrible song.  This new curriculum isn't trying to shape the world, it is trying to keep up and prepare our children to live in it happily and responsibly.

5.       This fall, the majority of university under-grad admissions, will have been born in 1997.   
      Think about that for a moment… 1997.   
      Remember, just the other day when Farrah Fawcett was drunk on David Lettermen?  
      Or when Lady Di, died??  
      That was 1997.    
      Since then, same sex marriage (better known as “Equal Marriage”) has become law in Ontario and later, Canada… some believe that was the end of the battle and everything is fine now for Gays and Lesbians… but reported violence against gay and lesbian teens is higher now than it was in 1997; on line bullying of those who might identify themselves as belonging to the LGBTQ community is a horrible phenomenon that we didn't imagine in the pre-FaceBook world.   We need a curriculum that addresses the reality and needs of 2015, not one that still dwells in the late 1990s, even if that does seem like “just yesterday”.

6.       In the past couple of years, whether it’s students of dentistry or frosh-hazing University Seniors, we have seen myriad examples of our education system failing to effectively teach respect for others and for ourselves; we have failed to empower people to say “No” confidently and for others to hear “No” as a viable answer to a proffered question, not a rejection of a them as a whole person.  We will only overcome a "Rape" culture, if we can nurture a "Consent" culture, this curriculum at least recognizes the terms.    
      This curriculum is not perfect; it will not fix all of our woes, but if it educates just one person to the reality that being a lesbian is not a “choice”;  that there is no secret cabal of Gay people pushing an agenda on our society… if it provides on child a moment of relief when he realizes that he is not a freak for feeling the way that he does… if it invites any of our diverse community into a better relationship with an “other”… if it helps to create an environment where we can be who we are and be in respectful, joyful relationships with others…if it keeps one kid from "sexting" a friend...  then it is an improvement over the existing program and I am glad to embrace it.

7.       Finally… it is true that I no longer have children in the system that will be affected by this new curriculum – but I do live in community and those children who are in school today ARE my children: They are and will be my neighbours, my leaders and my care-givers as I get older – so, I have an important investment.

Oh… and for those who think that we should be teaching Math not Masturbation to teens... trust me, they've already made the decision and no curriculum is going to change that. 


  1. Very articulate and insightful comments explore many of the issues involved in sex education (which is part of the health ed program). Sadly lacking in the discussion however is any information about the current cycle of curriculum review and implemenation that is an established part of education in Ontario. ALL subject disciplines have one or more Policy docs that describe age appropriate learning outcomes expected for each grade. These expectations ARE NOT set by politicians. Leading educators who are specialists in their subject discipline lead, mange an extensive consultation process, and write revisions that reflect current pedagocical practices and learning needs.Revision writing teams are comprised of top educators across the Province representing various regions and both Protestant and Catholic School Boards. It is NOT any one Premier or any one political party that establishes the expectations.... but politicians on occasion can play havoc with the review cycle by blocking/delaying the publication of a revised doc. I am always amazed at those who aren't there during consultations decide to object after the fact......

  2. Thanks for the above comment, Anonymous - I couldn't agree more.

  3. Thank you for this writing! In response to the above comment, perhaps I'm missing something. The politicians didn't create this curriculum....don't you think leading educators who ARE specialists in the field were involved in setting this curriculum? So why would we think that there will be no expectations or outcomes set for each grade level? As in ALL subject disciplines this is the case, and it will be done so by these leading educators and specialists in the field. Every subject in our school is evaluated for development outcomes...even drama class.