Over the last few weeks, I have received many emails from voters, asking about my platform and my stance on various issues. The most frequently asked question by far is this: what is my position on Ontario government’s repeal of the updated sex ed curriculum?
Sex ed is one of the most contentious issues facing school boards right now. Since it is a subject that directly impacts the safety and wellbeing of our students, it is also one of the most important.
I was sorry to see the 2015 Health & Physical Education (HPE) curriculum repealed. Having thoroughly read it both when it was introduced and in light of the recent debates, I believe it was designed with the intention of preparing students for the world they are growing up in (which, it must be said, is very different to the world my generation grew up in). Specifically:
* The curriculum addresses topics that were sorely neglected for previous generations of students, such as consent and bodily autonomy. Sadly, countless people have been victims of sexual assault without realizing that they were being assaulted, and countless people have perpetrated such assaults without realizing that they were crossing the boundaries of consent. The 2015 HPE curriculum was designed to prevent such occurrences.
* The curriculum addresses topics that simply didn’t exist in prior years, such as online safety. Students are engaging online more and more, which puts them at increasing risk of sexual predators and cyber bullying. It is critical that we, as the adults who have provided them with this technology, equip them with the tools and knowledge to keep them safe.
* Some elements of the curriculum, such as the teaching of proper names for body parts including genitalia, were specifically requested by the police and Children’s Aid, to allow for the accurate reporting and testimony of sexual assaults.
* The inclusion of LGBT topics in the curriculum can go a long way towards reducing bullying of LGBT children, and of children who have same-sex parents.
Some things that I would say to parents who were opposed to the 2015 HPE curriculum include the following:
* Most teachers were able to teach the curriculum and still respect the cultural and religious backgrounds of students and their families. In fact, the teachers I have spoken with all say that they were teaching the sex ed component towards the end of the school year, when they had formed relationships with the students and their families, so they could respect the cultural/religious needs of each student.
* While parents had the ability to opt their children out of the sex ed component, I do share concerns that the opt-out procedures were not always clear.
*It is the job of the trustee to represent the concerns of parents. If elected, I will invite any parent with concerns about the HPE curriculum (whichever curriculum is in effect), to talk to me. Our number one priority is to educate our students and keep them safe.
Photo credit: The People Speak! This picture has a Creative Commons attribution license.