Some of the lesson content in sex-ed and other subject areas is in direct opposition to the teachings of many of Ontario’s traditional faiths. There is concern that writing this content into curriculum will further add to the spiritual culture loss already being witnessed in Canada.
Social researcher Reginald Bibby has discovered that the number of Canadians- particularly teens- who believe in God is rapidly declining, while those professing no faith at all have increased from twelve to 32 percent: approximately one-third of all students.18
This may partly explain why public schools have become more inclusive of alternative lifestyles and sexual practices, but directives like those given by Bill 13, the Accepting Schools Act, and the sex-ed teaching give preference to certain groups while marginalizing others.
The Ontario H&PE curriculum defines ‘health’ as “…ʻa state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’”.19 It goes on to list all the things that affect health, concluding with the statement that “together, these factors affect an individual’s overall state of physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being [emphasis added]”.20
If the government admits that a student’s spirituality is an important part of their health, how are they promoting well-being by teaching content which conflicts with their faith in a way that ignores or overrides the wishes of their parents? The fact is, spiritual health among Canadian youth is declining and the way in which our schools treat traditional faith values is not helping the situation.
As a former Hamilton school board chair stated in 2011, when schools are “ʻcaught between the Human Rights Code and religious accommodation,’ the former prevails”.21
18 Kate Lunau. “Youth Survey: Teens lose faith in droves, Islam and atheism are on the rise while Christianity fades.” Published Maclean’s Magazine. April 7, 2009. Accessed December 27, 2014. http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/teens-lose-faith-in-droves
19 Ontario. Ministry of Education. The Ontario Curriculum Grade 1-8: Health and Physical Education, Interim Edition. Queen’s Printer for Ontario. 2010. p. 8.
21 Richard Leitner. Hamilton Community News. “Churches protest school board religion policy review’s scope.” October 26, 2011. Accessed December 27, 2014. http://www.hamiltonnews.com/news/churches-protest-school-board-religion-policy-review%E2%80%99s-scope