The announcement last year of new sex ed curriculum in Ontario resulted in some serious outcry and protest from parents who didn’t want the school system to teach their children topics they themselves were uncomfortable with—like what a penis is and does or that samesex couples exist.
Another main concern parents had was that children would be learning about and discussing consent and that it would lead to kids having more sex.
Not surprisingly, the Catholic school board was opposed to implementing the curriculum that, in many ways, taught things which their doctrine opposed.
Angela Kennedy, Chair of the Toronto Catholic School Board, was among the more vocal opponents. I am always baffled by educators who are against knowledge of any kind, especially scientific knowledge based on fact.
Kennedy changed her tune when the very reason this curriculum was updated hit her square in the nose, when her own child revealed to her that he had been sexually abused, and asked her to rethink her stance on the curriculum.
“He said, ‘Children need to know those facts—you can’t have a dialogue without those facts,’” she told the Star. “So I took a look at it, went through every grade, went through it thoroughly, and thought, ‘You know what, this is all good information.’”
It is Mrs. Kennedy. It is very good, very important, even vital, information.
It has been a full school year since the curriculum was introduced and parents threatened to pull their kids from the public school system altogether. And, according to the Globe and Mail in May, parents followed through with that threat as 2,000 kids were permanently removed from public schools.
A father who had made that choice for his children explained why he withdrew them.
“For my daughter, she is in Grade 6. So by Grade 6, you are teaching them how to masturbate and all these things,” explained Arshad Khan.
First of all, they don’t teach them how. They teach them that it’s natural and normal. You know why? Because they are already doing it, because it’s natural and normal and medical professionals feel it’s not healthy to teach kids that’s what natural and normal is wrong and worthy of judgment.
Enrolment in the Toronto District School Board—where the bulk of the protests against the curriculum was —declined this year. While there has been a decline in enrolment over the last few years, possibly to the 2015–2016 school year had a greater decline than was expected. So, these families followed through on their threat.
It took the real world, the real impetus behind these changes, for Angela Kennedy to realize why the curriculum is necessary and important.
She sees that now.
“I had read [the curriculum], but this time I read it with a different perspective, a different feeling, a different lens. Maybe (this time) I read it less with the lens of a trustee, and was now reading it with the lens of a parent.”
I would respectfully disagree with her assessment. The first time she read it with the lens of a parent, one who thought she knew what was best for her child to know.
The second time, she read it with the lens of a trustee, one who needed to look objectively at the why, rather than the what.