Sex Ed Curriculum in Ontario Faces Opposition as Misinformation Spreads May 6, 2015

Sex Ed Curriculum in Ontario Faces Opposition as Misinformation Spreads

Sex education today is somewhat different from what most of us had growing up. It’s not like we ever had to consider the effects of smartphones or online streaming.

So you’d think the revamped sex-ed curriculum in Ontario would have a lot of supporters:

… the revamped curriculum… includes Grade 3 students learning about same-sex relationships, Grade 6 kids being told about masturbation and “gender expression,” and Grade 7 pupils warned about the dangers of sexting.

“We all know that in 1998, kids did not have access to cellphones and the Internet and all of the technology that they have access to now so it’s pretty self-evident that we need update the curriculum,” [Premier Kathleen Wynne] said Friday in Peterborough. “We need to make sure kids get the information… in an age-appropriate way.”

But parents are infuriated. On Monday, thousands of them kept their kids home from school in protest of the new curriculum.

Part of the problem is that religious groups are spreading misinformation:

Indeed, some evangelical leaders claim the syllabus is essentially a how-to guide to masturbation, anal and oral sex, undermining their values.

Arabic-language letters were also circulating in parts of Ontario with a complete disregard for the facts:

Claim 3: “Anal Play 101 class in Grade 8 would actually provide instruction on anal sex play.”

Source: An anonymous letter written in Arabic and circulated in Peel Region.

Veracity: “Anal Play 101” is not a lesson plan — the title comes from an online article on the Planned Parenthood Toronto website. In Grade 7, children learn how to communicate that they don’t want to have sex, including anal sex. They learn that it’s best to wait until they are older to have any kind of sexual activity. They also learn how STIs are transmitted during sex, including anal sex.

At least some religious moderates are sensible about the changes, like Muslim principal Jeewan Chanicka:

Fear and ignorance breeds hatred and has unintended consequences. With regards to the upcoming curriculum, we should remember that parents have a right to choose and decide what age is best to learn specific information around sex/sexual activity. There can be NO room for compromise in terms of helping children understand that there are different people in the world who live differently and see/understand the world that way. This may come in the form of various faiths or in other ways — LGBTQ is only one of them. Human rights must be afforded to everyone and cannot be cherry-picked. What it requires though is a critical examination of the upcoming curriculum and the language within it…

It’s hard to find criticism of the actual curriculum when some parents are bound to flip out at the very idea of their children learning about sex. It’s as if they refuse to believe their kids are going to figure this stuff out on their own and it’s to everybody’s benefit to give them formal education about sex instead of letting them fend for themselves.

The alternative is ignorance, which is what these parents seem to want. It’s an awful idea. A Texas high school that taught abstinence-only sex education is now dealing with a chlamydia outbreak affecting one in fifteen students. I guess that’s the road on which these Ontario parents want their kids to travel.

(Image via tyle_r on Flickr. Thanks to Genevieve for the link)

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