Many are petitioning the government now as they did in 2010. But you must understand who and what you’re petitioning. Here are two common misunderstandings about the situation and the public’s ability to appeal the new curriculum.
Problem #1: Curriculum is not legislation
The things being taught to our children in school are not decided by all the politicians sitting in Queen’s Park, Toronto. They don’t even vote on the curriculum. The proposed curriculum is not provincial law but part of a unit (Growth and Development) within the Health and Physical Education curriculum for the Province of Ontario. All that’s needed is for the Ministry of Education to mandate the curriculum changes.
When a new law is proposed, it’s debated in the legislature and the public usually has a chance to share an opinion by signing a petition (which gets read out loud in the House) or by speaking at a Standing Committee meeting. Recently, many people did this during the debate of another school-related law called Bill 13, the Accepting Schools Act (a law, by the way, which was passed in June 2012 and helped to pave the way for the return of these changes).
But curriculum is different. It isn’t law, and it only needs the approval of the Ministry. They’ve said they will take input from parents, and you’ve already learned about how minimal input has been. But, as you’ll see, there’s an even deeper issue.
Problem #2: The content is already in the classroom
The explicit content in the new curriculum has been in the classrooms for decades. Topics such as anal sex and oral sex, getting to know yourself through masturbation and affirmation of alternative sexual lifestyles have been gradually integrated into classrooms as supplementary lesson content. Since the mid 1990’s, teachers have been encouraged (but not required) to use the additional lesson content.
The reasoning given was that children are sexually active and families are changing. Teachers who agreed integrated these concepts into the classroom and over time, more teachers have included such content.
In 2010, the government went further and pushed for mandatory changes. The purpose was to ensure that every classroom and every teacher is teaching this material to every child in public school, no matter which values are taught in the home. The negative response, along the threat of losing votes, caused them to pause.
Don’t be fooled: the government’s change of heart did not come because they believed there was a problem. It came because it was close to an election. They needed to wait until the political path was clear. Now, it is!