The Ontario Ministry of Education released the new 2019 Grades 1 – 8, Health and Physical Education expectations on Aug 21, 2019. This, after a long and expensive public education inquiry which the government is being criticized for.
PEACE has gone through and compared both the 2015 and the 2019 documents (over 550 pages) page by page and is developing a Grade by Grade response/critique.
The 2019 Health and Physical Education Curriculum is a large document – 2019 pages. There are 5 Strands and numerous sub-topics in each strand. The strand and subtopic involving sex education is the Human Development and Sexual Health subtopic within the Healthy Living strand.
The foundation of the sex ed program is still Comprehensive Sexuality Education / CSE (also known as Sexual Risk Reduction / SRR) which has been proven to not improve the health of students.
When it comes to the sexual health instruction, all of the previous concerns still apply. The media and education academics interviewed after the release of the curriculum agreed, ‘there has been little change in the sex ed curriculum’. We find that the changes that were made, actually reinforce the CSE messaging.
LET’S LOOK AT THE CONCERNS
Ministry Announced Changes to Address Concerns
The announced Ministry changes designed to reduce the negative response to the sex ed curriculum by parents are smoke and mirrors(PS – We do not believe the politicians realize this, but the curriculum developers do):
- Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) would Not be taught until later grades. SO would be taught tin Gr. 5 and GI in Gr. 8.
- Online instruction for parents who want to teach their child at home
- Opt Out will be mandatory for all school boards.
Comment on the Ministry Changes
- Moving SOGI to Gr. 5 and 8 – NOT AN IMPROVEMENT
The government announced that it would address the concerns of parents by moving Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) to Grades 5 and 8 respectively.
- The Reality is that the 2015 summary chart of the Healthy Living Key Topics sexual orientation &gender identity (SOGI) were not listed as “Key Topics” Until Gr. 8. See “Healthy Living – Human Development and Sexual Health Key Topics chart in Appendix A.Question: “If SOGI was not listed as a “key topic”, why was it taught in the primary grades.”
Answer: Teachers have the authority to bring into the classroom any instruction that they feel is relevant for student learning. Those who train teachers in sex ed, recommend supplementary content like SOGI be added to the lessons to address the inclusive curriculum goals. Commercially available lessons (often created by curriculum groups associated with Planned Parenthood) include SOGI content in the lessons. In addition, LGBT interest groups are often involved at the school level providing anti-bullying and alternative family support instruction.
Reality: There is nowhere in the curriculum document where teachers are instructed not to include
SOGI until the Key Topic grades. Therefore, SOGI will continue to be part of lessons.
- The terms sexual orientation and gender identity do not appear in the 2019 Curriculum, however, recommended teacher prompts and student responses include questioning designed to open the door on the topic and illicit responses from students that will lead to discussion on SOGI.
Example – Grade 3 Expectation – Visible and Invisible Differences
EXPECTATION : The student needs to describe how visible differences (e.g., skin, hair, and eye colour; facial features; body size and shape; physical aids or different physical abilities; clothing; possessions) and invisible differences (e.g., learning abilities, skills and talents, personal or cultural values and beliefs, mental illness, family background, personal preferences, allergies and sensitivities) make each person unique, and identify ways of showing respect for differences in others.
TEACHER PROMPT: “Sometimes we are different in ways you can see. Sometimes we are different in ways you cannot see –such as how we learn, what we think, who we love, and what we are able to do. Give me some examples of things that make each person unique.”
Note, “who we love” has been inserted into the Teacher Prompt for 2 reasons:
- Affirm to teachers that sexual orientation could be brought up as an example,
- Draw out of students’ sexual orientation examples
OPT OUT – The GOOD and the LIMITATIONS
Opting Out is NOT new. School boards have always had to inform parents about sexual healthinstruction so they could opt out if needed, the process in school boards was not consistent and often intimidating.
GOOD NEWS – The government announced that All school boards are to set up a process that is not intimidating.
LIMITATIONS – On page 17 the document states, “Principals must follow their school board’s policy that allows for students to be exempted, at their parents’ request, from instruction related to the Grade 1 to 8 Human Development and Sexual Health expectations in Strand D.”
Therefore, exemption is only required to instruction in ‘Human Development and Sexual Health’ topic – the specific sex education lessons. If sensitive topics are included in other subjects, or learning contexts, school boards will claim that parents may not be allowed to opt out.
e.g Literature involving sexual orientation, or a song in music class celebrating gender identity.
STILL GOOD NEWS
- If it is easier for parents to OptOut we should be able to get more families willing to communicate concern that CSE based instruction does not meet the learning needs of their children.
- Parents who build positive relationship with their teacher are often accommodated for sensitive lesson content outside of sex ed.
A parent who wants to instruct their child from home makes that decision so that they can help the child to connect the learning in the classroom with the teachings and values of the home. Unfortunately, the online instruction will be created by the same people who created the CSE -based curriculum. Hence the online resources will also be CSE based.
2015 Ontario Health and Physical Education Curriculum
Healthy Living Key Topic Chart
NOTE – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity not list till Grade 8 – see next page