Ontario students will be taught the old sex-education curriculum — which predates same-sex marriage, Google, and social media — when they return to school in September, says Education Minister Lisa Thompson.
Following on Premier Doug Ford’s campaign pledge to scrap the updated lesson plans introduced in 2015, Thompson said the Progressive Conservative government would soon begin deciding how to revamp them in conjunction with parents.
“The sex-ed component is going to be reverted back to the manner in which it was prior to the changes that were introduced by the Liberal government,” she told reporters on Wednesday.
That means teaching the 1998 curriculum instead of the modernized one, opposed by social conservatives, covering subject matter like same-sex relationships, gender identity, cyberbullying, and the dangers of sexting.
“We’re going to be moving very swiftly with our consultations and I will be sharing with your our process in the weeks to come,” said Thompson, promising the Tories would be “respecting parents” when a new curriculum is developed, possibly in time for the 2019-20 school year.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath warned the new government is making a mistake and that children will pay the price.
“Going backwards in terms of keeping our kids safe and giving them the information they need to stay safe is not the right direction,” said Horwath.
“We worked hard to make sure that everyone in Ontario feels that they are respected, that they are able to be who they are, able to have opportunity, able to be free of violence and hate. And anything that starts to erode people’s ability to be themselves and be respected in this province is problematic.”
“We are very happy to see the radical sex curriculum repealed,” Jim Hughes, national president of the Campaign Life Coalition, which opposes abortion rights.
Hughes expressed hope that the “ideological agenda” of former Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne, an openly gay first minister, would be “scrapped completely.”
Wynne’s government updated the curriculum three years ago with an eye toward keeping children safe from abuse by educating them.
Proper names for body parts and genitals are taught in Grade 1, which is a change child-abuse investigators had long urged. The concept of same-sex relationships is introduced in Grade 3. In Grade 4 students learn about online safety as well as puberty.
In Grade 6, they learn what masturbation is as well as healthy relationships and consent. In Grade 7, students are warned about the risks of “sexting” and are taught about sexually transmitted diseases and informed about oral and anal sex.