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My statement on the sex-ed curriculum

October 1, 2018

The province’s health and physical education curriculum – commonly known as sex-ed – is an issue many parents care about and raised as I have gone door to door across Scarborough Southwest.

I have read the entire curriculum and have a vested interest in keeping children safe: My grandson will be entering the public school system before long.

We must educate young people to protect them from on-line stalkers  and sexual predators. They need to be able to understand their bodies and discuss issues such as gender identity, consent  and cyber-bullying.

The new curriculum was introduced without meaningful consultation with parents. That caused hostility and anxiety among groups that did not fully understand its content. It also became overly politicized when the Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne chose to hold a vote on it in the Legislature. This turned the curriculum into a divisive and partisan political document, which it should never have been.

The math curriculum does not get voted on in the Legislature. The geography curriculum does not get voted on in the Legislature. It is inappropriate, therefore, for the sex-ed curriculum to be voted on along party lines.

In the past, the Toronto public school board was able to develop parts of its own curriculum, within provincial guidelines. The sex-ed curriculum is an example of why we should revert to that model. Toronto District School Board should produce programs that are appropriate to urban schools and tailor-made for Toronto.

Young people need to have access to information that will keep them safe and families need to have a comfort level with what their children are being taught.

The director of the Toronto District School Board has issued a directive confirming that teacher prompts in the 1998 curriculum allow teachers to address issues from the updated 2015 version. And I support that! 

At one time, sex-ed was an issue that was addressed only by the family. In many instances, that is no longer the case. In the complex world of social media, students need to be taught the knowledge of how to navigate through an often difficult and perilous cyber world. While some parts of the new curriculum were, in my view, not age appropriate, I believe with small tweaks it can work for everyone. 

Scarborough Southwest is a community with a great deal of cultural and religious diversity. Schools must teach sex-ed in a way that respects that diversity and consults with parents every step of the way.

Curricula are living documents that are constantly being up-dated. With consultation and co-operation, we can create a new and better curriculum that will keep our children safe while respecting parental rights.

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