Premier Kathleen Wynne has promised to return the sex education curriculum that was seriously criticized and rejected in 2010 because it was graphic and age inappropriate.
The 2010 Gr. 1 – 8, Health and Physical Education Curriculum introduced sexual information in greater detail at earlier ages. Grade 7 classroom instruction would include anal and oral sex, Grade 6 the promotion of self-discovery through masturbation, and in Grade 3 students would be introduced to the topic of gender identity. Many parents felt uncomfortable how these topics would be communicated, and if their values would be respected. (1)
Response to the sensitive content was so negative, Premier Dalton McGuinty had the sensitive lesson content removed. During his announcement McGuinty stated the following:
“It’s obvious from listening to parents … that the curriculum needs a ‘serious rethink’.
We’ll take the [sex ed curriculum] we had proposed putting into place back off the shelf…[and the government will] create more opportunities for parents to lend shape to a policy with which they are more comfortable.”
“I know that parents are supportive of the idea that children should be taught about their body parts, relationships and those kinds of things,” said McGuinty. “But they are obviously not comfortable with the proposal that we put forward, and so we are going to improve upon that.”
Rubber Stamp Survey
Last month, the Wynne government conducted a ‘rubber-stamp survey’ with questions that were so general the government could justify any lesson content. Further, only one hand-picked representative from each school was allowed to complete the survey.
Irrespective of the surveys, the Minister of Education has said curriculum will be fully implemented in September 2015.
Comprehensive Sex Education Does Not Work – New Brunswick Experience
The rationale for this kind of comprehensive sex education is ‘provide students with all of the information so they can decide what is best for themselves.’ Proponents tell us this kind of programing leads to fewer teen pregnancies and reduced STI rates.
However, New Brunswick implemented this kind of curriculum in the mid 2000’s, and between 2006 and 2010 there was a 40% increase in teen pregnancies in the province. (2)
The ‘American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry advises parents of young children, “parents should respond to the needs and curiosity of their children by offering no more or less information than their child is asking for, and is able to understand.” Readiness can vary significantly form one child to another. How can a universal provincial curriculum provide flexibility to suit the sensitivity and needs of each child?’ (3)
If child development professionals and the practical evidence supports parental involvement in the development and delivery of sexuality education, why does this government ignore the requests for broad parental involvement of this sensitive curriculum for children?
1) Mitchell, Peter Jon, (2014) Making Sex Education Work, Institute of Marriage and Family Canada, p. 5
2) McKay, A., (2013), Trends in Canadian national and provincial/territorial teen pregnancy rates: 2001 – 2010. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, Vol. 21, No. 3 & 4, p. 165.
3) Mitchell, Peter Jon, (2014) Making Sex Education Work, Institute for Marriage and Family Canada, p. 2