Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Queer Ontario's response to the new sex ed curriculum

A few weeks ago, I posted about Ontario's new sex education curriculum. I thought it was one of the best sex education programs that I have seen. However, conservative and religious groups did not, and the provincial government pulled the program, and plans to consult with these groups in developing a new curriculum plan.

Queer Ontario has just released a statement about the curriculum that I will quote at length

Queer Ontario feels the Elementary Health and Physical Education Curriculum proposed by the McGuinty government back in January of 2010 was a step in the right direction that would have provided Ontario children and youth with up-to-date scientific information on human development, physical health, sex, sexuality, sexual behaviour, and gender identity. So it came as a tremendous disappointment to hear that McGuinty succumbed to the pressures that were created by sex-negative religious fundamentalists, moral conservatives, and misinformed parents, ultimately rescinding the curriculum just 54 hours after he had come out in strong support of it.

Given that the first round of consultations had already taken into consideration the concerns of parent groups and religious organizations like the Institute for Catholic Education – alongside public health organizations, sex educators, school boards, academics, and LGBTQ groups including Queer Ontario’s predecessor, the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario (CLGRO), – the new curriculum was in no way under consulted and actually served to bring Ontario’s Health and Physical Education Curriculum in line with those of other, more progressive provinces like British Columbia. The new proposed curriculum is overdue and progressive respecting personal differences and individual uniqueness, much needed concepts that would have begun to be addressed in Ontario’s elementary school systems.

To this end Queer Ontario calls for:

The Province of Ontario to fully implement the proposed Health and Physical Education Curriculum and not to abandon important tenets regarding aspects of sex education dealing with sex, sexual orientation, sexual behaviour, gender and gender identity.

A balanced approach (as with the first rounds) should a second round of consultations be set up, albeit redundantly, by inviting all previously-consulted groups to the table to ensure – once again – that there is an inclusive, well-informed, and comprehensive review of the necessary changes.

The inclusion of Queer Ontario and other LGBT groups in the second round of consultations.

The Premier’s intention, be supported, to implement the new proposed curriculum across both the public and separate Catholic school systems throughout Ontario inclusive of the sex education components.

The media did not release information pertaining to how many groups were consulted in the development of the new curriculum; they made it seem as though the curriculum were developed privately by the liberal government and released, shocking groups and parents alike. The news stories that I read (and there were a lot of them) also failed to mention that a similar program exists in British Columbia; they made it seem as though this were first of it's kind and extremely radical. I guess we can see the mainstream media's stance on the curriculum in this omission.

If a new curriculum really is developed to replace both the existing and proposed curriculum, I really hope the government at very least includes Queer Ontario and other LGBT groups in Ontario in developing this curriculum. I think "protecting" children from information about same sex couples is a big part of what leads to systemic heterosexism.

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