The new Ontario “sex act”

The recent reaction by some parents to the introduction of the new Health and Physical Education Curriculum is distressing, and oftentimes infuriating. I am not opposed to people making choices about what is best for their child; I’ve done it myself.

I believe in public education strongly and I believe in the right to advocate for your child. I do not believe they should be mutually exclusive.

Sending around flyers stating that teachers will be teaching children how to masturbate, engage in anal sex and facilitate them looking at pornography is not only categorically untrue and insulting to the professionals who teach your children, it is not advocacy. That is lying and therefore teaching your children that you need to spread lies when your argument is weak.

Stopping people at a bus stop and discouraging them from sending their child to school to protest something on your behalf is not advocating for your child. This tells your child that you need to harass and bully when you disagree with a system change.

When you carry signs that say “What’s next? Safe animal sex?” you are not advocating for your child. You are spreading hate. You are teaching your children that exaggerating and perpetuating stereotypes is acceptable when you disagree with the government.

The amount of misinformation being sent around the internet, mailboxes and school parking lots is astounding.

I ask parents to read the curriculum. Every word. Then decide if it goes against YOUR beliefs. If the knowledge is not beneficial to your child, who will be out in the world with the internet and cell phones and parties and peer pressure without you, then you are well within your rights to withdraw your children from the public system. I do not think this will protect them. Instead, the more caring and dedicated people who are in our children’s lives the better. People committed to helping them understand and navigate the challenges of social and personal interactions, well, that’s a good thing.

Parents are the head of households, but school is the place where other ways of thinking are learned and shared and discussed. No one is trying to change your family values; the point is to ensure that the values of personal safety and inclusion and diversity are understood and respected. There is a universality to that. Just as you expect people to respect your way of life and beliefs, even if it is different from their own, this curriculum is intended to help children respect other ways of being. It is filled with ways to keep them safe from unwanted attention and harm.

Don’t insult the intelligence of educators, or your children. No one is trying to corrupt children. This new curriculum has more in common with the sex education they have been receiving since 1998 than people seem to appreciate. Yes, children are learning certain aspects at a younger age; this reflects what is happening in society as a whole.

If you, as an individual, have an issue, work with your school. Be a partner in the learning process. Be a true advocate.

7 thoughts on “The new Ontario “sex act”

    • The curriculum has been updated and includes for instance discussions about internet safety, acknowledges individuals whose gender identity is outside the traditional binary, discusses consent, and several other changes needed since it was last updated in 1998.


  1. I could not agree with you more. If it was possible to quadruple like a blog post then I would do so. I can’t speak to the specifics of your curriculum but I absolutely and fundamentally believe that sex education needs to evolve with the times and involve more frank and inclusive discussion.

    When I was at school in Scotland, sex education was very much biology. It was reproduction centred. I don’t remember any discussion about relationships, consent, other types of sexual intimacy beyond traditional male-female penetration and no mention of orgasm beyond the need for male ejaculate for conception. Safe sex was covered but not personal or emotional safety as it relates to sex. Then I became a high school teacher and nothing had changed in the curriculum. Nothing at all.

    I could not in all conscience deliver such a limited curriculum. It was outmoded and largely irrelevant to my students who were not interested in learning how to conceive or what pregnancy involved but were rampaging masses of hormones. So I delivered the curriculum as instructed but made some additions and tweaks. Despite the fact it was still forbidden to do so in England at that time, I did make mention of same sex relationships, sexuality and gender identity. Years later, a couple of my former students contacted me to thank me for doing so as that was the beginning of them feeling they could one day come out as gay and be accepted. I think that more than justifies my stretching of the rules. I also introduced a Q&A box whereby my students could anonymously write down questions about sex (and gradually any other subject) and I would pull the slips out during the lesson and answer them. That alone told me that my students wanted and needed to know far, far more than was included in the curriculum.

    Now my oldest son is being taught sex education in America and still it is woeful. He’s lucky to have parents who are not uncomfortable or embarrassed discussing such subjects and we’ve had plenty of conversations over the years that have drip-dripped the information to him and his brothers at a pace appropriate to their age and stage. I dread to think what lacking and fragmentary knowledge the kids have whose parents are less open. It’s as if educators (as in the designers of the curriculum rather than the front line staff delivering it) would rather kids learn from playground chatter or the Internet and have to deal with misinformation and harmful messages.

    Parents and educators both have a role in teaching children about sex but I fear that in many instances both sources are profoundly lacking.


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