Ontario, Canada’s New Sex Ed Curriculum Sparks Outrage, Curiosity

With any change usually comes rumor, speculation and misconception. One person may say something while others will say something different, and essentially, people will come to believe what they wish to believe. Ontario, Canada’s new sex ed curriculum is no exception. There has not been an update to the sex ed curriculum since 1998, and some are outraged by what they have heard are the proposed changes. Others are outraged because they cannot believe that people are outraged.

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In today’s Toronto Star, general details about the new sex ed curriculum were released. There are multiple theories about what is being taught at which grade level, and concerns range from teachers having to discuss masturbation and homosexuality with students to students learning about anal and oral sex. None of these are actually mandatory subjects in the curriculum.

In the new sex ed curriculum, Grade 1 students will learn the proper names for the male and female genitalia. Grade 2 students learn about the basic stages of human development, including how their bodies change as they grow. Grade 3 sees students having possibly the first discussions about homosexuality, with topics possibly covering families with two moms or two dads. By Grade 6, notions of consent and healthy relationships are discussed, while Grade 7 students learn about the dangers of sexting, avoiding genital to genital, anal to genital or oral to genital contact and delaying sexual contact until they are older.

Director of the Peel District School Board Tony Pontes says that his board, the second largest in Ontario, plans on taking a relatively tough stance on families who might encourage their children to opt out of certain topics in the sex ed curriculum. “Supported by legal opinion, bolstered by our core values, I would no more say yes to someone wanting a child excluded because of a discussion about LGBTQ than I would a discussion about race or gender,” he said.

Peel is also opening its first gender-neutral washroom and introducing gender identity guidelines for its students and educators as well.

Brampton Grade 5 teacher Yasmine Sarruf told CBC News that she supports the sex ed curriculum and is dismayed that her area’s Member of Parliament Kyle Seeback, who is running for the Conservatives in the area after serving as the area MP for four years, wrote a letter in which he said, “gender identity is a concept that tells us that people can identify with a gender opposite to that which they were born.”

Sarruf felt that Seeback’s words implied a disbelief in people sensing that they were transgender, and immediately went on the offensive.

“Kids are so accepting,” Sarruf said. “And I think that’s something that some people don’t understand. If they just came and watched a lesson, they would see it’s not scary, nobody freaks out, [the students are] just like, ‘Okay, cool.'”

The new sex ed curriculum is set to be implemented with the start of the 2015-2016 school year, set to start in Ontario September 8.

(Photo courtesy of Macleans.ca)