Oh how the mighty have fallen.
It’s hard to believe that the political party that once ruled the province of Ontario for 42 straight years has been reduced to flirting with climate change denial and shrilly decrying the merits of Sex Education. As incredibly disappointing as I find the former, it is the latter that leaves me shaking my head.
So let’s look at the four leadership candidates and what they have said about Sex Ed, starting with the most innocuous, Caroline Mulroney.
When Ms. Mulroney wasn’t busy running away from reporters asking why she sends her kids to private school, she weighed in on the topic saying she was against “undoing any of the changes that have already been made,” but that she would have more parental input on curriculum updates. Safe answer.
Third least alarmist on the issue, Christine Elliott, has been accused of flip-flopping on her position, but she has clearly stated that she thinks the current updated Ontario Sex Ed curriculum is “a big problem” and that she “would like to open up the curriculum to parents.” So, unlike Mulroney, she’s not planning on waiting for any updates before she imposes changes.
Then we have Doug Ford who, God love him, knows how swing a populist issue like a bullyboy swings his fists. Ford finds the curriculum “totally unacceptable” and that “travelling around the province, [Sex Ed] is the number one issue with parents right now.” He too claims that earlier consultations with parents were “insufficient”.
Finally we have the pearl-clutching Tanya Granic Allen who wants to know why someone won’t please think of the children. Granic Allen has the distinction having the title “Sex Education Critic” tagged behind her name on most newscasts. She is the president of Parents As First Educators and sits on the Catholic Civil Rights League, but most notably she uses the phrase “anal sex” more than any other politician I know.
So what’s the common thread through these four leadership candidates’ views on Sex Ed? They all stoop for the low hanging fruit of telling parents that they have control of their children’s curriculum. It makes sense though, right? In a democracy we get to choose for our children, right?
Sorry parents, curriculum standards are developed by the Ministry of Education, school boards are charged with putting them in place and teachers create and deliver lessons plans. No individual or group has the right to deny Ontario’s children of informative, sensitive and progressive Sex Education. You can choose to keep your child ignorant of the topic by removing them from class, but you cannot foist your sheltering ways on other families.
Some have criticized the newly revised 2015 Ontario Sex Ed curriculum calling it “radical” and it might very well be considered radical when compared to the former outdated and parochial curriculum. However, with children entering puberty earlier, with media and the internet presenting sexual themes more readily, and with our society’s understanding of sexuality growing more nuanced, a comprehensive Sex Ed curriculum was needed and the Ministry of Education delivered.
Politicians need to keep their vote pulling out of Public Education and out of the Sex Education Curriculum. Also, the Ontario PC party might want to consider what the “P” in their name stands for. The shared stance taken by these four leaderships candidates is certainly not progressive.
*Note: Have you ever looked at the Ontario sex ed curriculum? It’s not only progressive, but it is sensitive to students and their stages of development and it seeks to keep them informed and safe. I recommend a quick look here.