Over 20 organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Canadians are demanding the Ford government nix its plans to roll back Ontario’s sexual education curriculum to the ‘90s.
An open letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Lisa Thompson was released Wednesday. It was co-signed by 21 groups in community and sexual health, reproductive rights and LGBTQ+ advocacy — including Planned Parenthood Ottawa, CUPE Ontario, the MATCH International Women’s Fund and the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association.
“This will put Ontario’s children and youth at higher risk of sexual violence, sexually transmitted infections, exploitation, bullying and abuse” – open letter to @fordnation on sex-ed curriculum #onpoli
The letter expresses “deep shock and dismay” over the Ford government’s decision to kill the province’s sex-ed curriculum, designed in 2015, and revert back this fall to material designed in 1998 — a time before smartphones or social media were available, same-sex marriage was legalized and cyber bullying was widely acknowledged.
“Revoking the 2015 update means our children and youth will lack key education on consent, online safety, LGBTQ+ inclusion, and sexual health,” reads the letter.
“This will put Ontario’s children and youth at higher risk of sexual violence, sexually transmitted infections, exploitation, bullying and abuse.”
Ford campaigned on a promise to abandon the province’s sex-ed curriculum, released under the Wynne Liberal government after almost a decade of consultations. It teaches issues related to sexual health like consent and homophobia.
The Ford government maintains that the new curriculum isn’t “age-appropriate.” Critics have argued it introduces topics like masturbation and anal sex at too young an age. Supporters have countered that students will be encountering those topics at a young age anyway, either through friends, on social media or elsewhere on the internet.
The decision provoked controversy and confusion throughout July about how exactly the government could force older material to be taught in Ontario schools in 2018.