On the Right Track

Carolyn Zeppieri 

Talking about the birds and the bees doesn’t cut it anymore, and dancing around the subject of sexual education ignores the inevitable fate of youth to explore their sexuality. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has implemented the new sexual education curriculum in elementary schools to fully inform the youth of Ontario about sex, sexual orientation and gender identity.

The new sex-ed curriculum for 2015 has become controversial, as some people are opposed to their children being taught more about sex than what was in the previous curriculum. People may think that it is up to the parents to inform their children about sex and all that comes with it, but many parents don’t know enough on the subject themselves. Since sexual content is exploited in our culture and in media, youth should learn the objective basics about sex before other influences weigh in.

Regardless of parental preference, youth will benefit from learning the proper precautions to take and the consequences of practicing unsafe sex. There have been many misconceptions about how sexual education will be taught and to what age groups. Wynne’s new curriculum teaches children about equality and sexual orientation, not specific sexual activities or contraceptives. It is important to educate youth on the sexual experiences they encounter rather than following a philosophy of “ignorance is bliss” while youth still engage in sexual activities without proper knowledge of the repercussions.

Growing up, I never had any sort of sex-ed talk with my parents. When I reached high school, the only sex advice my mother would give to me was to make sure I didn’t let boys touch me inappropriately. Recently, I asked my mom why she never fully addressed the topic of sex with me, and she said she expected me to learn it in school. Among my social group, it has been the case that our parents didn’t properly teach us about sex and we had to resort to the limited school curriculum.

Parents may choose to exempt their children from sexual education classes, but the majority will benefit from the new implementation of Wynne’s 2015 curriculum, especially regarding sexual and gender equality. Children should be educated using this modern and inclusive curriculum so they are properly educated about the intricacies of their sexual health.

Room for Discussion

By: Kara Johri

Kathleen Wynne’s Health and Physical Education curriculum was met with great enthusiasm by many Ontarians and includes a number of topics to address modern issues of consent, sexting and same-sex relationships. However, not everyone was as pleased with some of the changes made to the curriculum. The day after the revised curriculum was published, protesters from various social, political, and religious conservative organizations and concerned parents gathered to express their disapproval.

Amidst the crowd in the protest were also a number of deeply troubling homophobic and trans-misogynistic individuals. The actions and attitudes of some of the protesters have made it extremely difficult to see the protests as anything other than strictly bigoted fanaticism. I sought the opinions of one of the organizers of the protest, Andreas Korfmann, to get a better idea of what the protest was about. He and I had a lengthy discussion, and he expressed that a major concern was that parents felt that they had not been properly consulted or did not get an opportunity to voice their concerns for the curriculum.

The Ontario Liberal Party faced similar criticism when they attempted to introduce a revised sexual education curriculum back in 2010. Then, conservative groups succeeded in pressuring the McGuinty government to keep the HPE curriculum from 1998. In an attempt to address the lack of parental involvement, the Ministry of Education surveyed the parent council chairs for 4,000 elementary schools across the province about their opinions on the new HPE curriculum. Critics claimed that these surveys contained questions that were worded in a way to encourage particular answers and made very little reference to the actual content of the curriculum. It still remains somewhat unclear what the results of the survey were, as well as how much weight they held in the approval process of the curriculum. This has left some feeling that this attempt at gaining parental input was insincere at best.

Regardless of what your position is regarding the new curriculum, a feeling of powerlessness and frustration at government decision-making is something we can all relate to. Greater effort needs to be taken by media and voters to push for better communication and transparency in these matters and parents should be encouraged to have a more active role in their children’s education.

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