Leave the Sex Ed Curriculum Alone

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The Sex Ed Curriculum is a benefit to students in Ontario. It teaches students the differences between safe and healthy relationships, including as young children. It helps to teach younger students when they should report inappropriate behaviour and it helps to teach older students decisions about sexual activity. Please read my open letter below to the Minister of Education and the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education.

An Open Letter to Lisa Thompson (Minister of Education) and Sam Oosterhoff (Parliamentary Assistant to Lisa Thompson),

Congratulations on your new posts as Minister of Education and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education. You have a tough task ahead of you, with two very different paths. You now must decide between doing what is right and what is easy.

The right thing to do is to leave the Physical Education and Health Curriculum the way it is. The right thing to do is to ensure that our students are looked after. The current Sexual Education curriculum protects our most vulnerable. I understand that most of those against the Sexual Education Curriculum haven’t fully read it. So I want to give a brief breakdown, by grade, of what’s actually covered in the curriculum.

Grade 1: Body Parts (identifying) and Hygienic Practices

Grade 2: Stages of Development

Grade 3: Healthy Relationships. This includes consent and is one of the most contested topics in the curriculum. Consent, in this situation, does not have to do with consensual sex. Instead, it has to do with teaching children the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching. When a doctor touches a child during a routine checkup with the parents in the room, that’s acceptable and normal. When Uncle John touches you while babysitting you at 11:00pm in your bed, that’s unacceptable and not normal. Now - some parents say things along the lines of “this should be my job to teach my children!” I agree, wholeheartedly. However, the children that need the sex ed curriculum that is currently in place are exactly the children not being taught this at home.

Grade 4: Puberty

Grade 5: Reproduction, Menstruation, Sperm Production. Some might say this is too early. It’s only grade 5! However, the average age of puberty in Canada seems to be leaning towards 9-10. Grade 5s are 10-11.

Grade 6:  Puberty continued, Decision Making in Relationships, Healthy Relationships (including vastly different kinds of relationships, including same-sex relationships and extra-marital relationships). Most who are against this particular part say things along the lines of “My religion states that Same Sex relationships and extra-marital relationships are wrong! Fair enough. However, in Canada, we have a separation of Church and State. If we start to change this, where does it stop? Should our schools outlaw pork to appease the Muslim Population? Should we not allow any kind of shellfish to appease those who follow the Torah in the Jewish faith?

Grade 7: Delaying sexual activity (that’s right! Abstinence is still taught!), STIs and Pregnancy prevention (yes, this includes contraception as a less effective alternative to abstinence, Sexual Health.

Grade 8: Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation. Okay, here we go. The crux of the entire curriculum. Again, I point you to Grade 6 - should we make our curriculum based on religion? Multiple genders has gone back centuries. This is not a new concept.

The easy thing to do is to modify the curriculum. It’s what your voter base wants (for the most part). The easy thing to do is to believe the rhetoric and ignore the facts. In this situation, everybody who is against the Sexual Education Curriculum is following popular rhetoric instead of research-based facts.

I implore you both - check the research before making any decisions. Talk to parents - as you’ve promised to do. Not just parents in the private and religious boards, but the parents from children of all boards. Talk to students. And, possibly most importantly, talk to educators. We have spent years reading the curriculum, how students learn, and what many students need.

Please, please, do what is right and not what is easy.