Doug Ford made a lot of campaign promises during the Ontario leadership race and to the horror of many Ontarians, he’s started delivering on the most controversial and conservative ones right off the bat. The man has officially been premier for exactly two weeks, but he’s already frozen government hiring, decreased public health coverage, halted the minimum wage increase and, oh yeah, announced that the Ontario sex-ed program will revert back to the curriculum taught in 1998. Yes, 1998. That’s the year Google was founded.
In 2015, the Liberal government of Ontario rolled out a new sex-ed curriculum that was lauded by educators for its comprehension and wide coverage of relevant topics such as gender identity, sexual orientation, consent, birth control and STIs. Faith groups and socially conservative groups, however, vehemently opposed the new curriculum. The general belief by those groups was that if you teach kids about sex, they’ll want to do it. Doug Ford campaigned on completely redoing the curriculum to fall more in line with that conservative view.
“The sex-ed component is going to be reverted back to the manner in which it was prior to the changes that were introduced by the Liberal government,” new Education Minister, Lisa Thompson said, “We’re going to be moving very swiftly in our consultations, and I will be sharing with you our process in the weeks to come.”
The last time the Ontario curriculum was updated before 2015 was 1998. That means, come September, kids will be learning the same sex-ed that was taught back when Windows 98 was the cutting edge of operating systems. Windows 98.
So what were the kids learning about the birds and the bees in 1998? Certainly not enough. There was no mention of consent, sexual orientation, gender identity, masturbation or any of the components of sexuality that didn’t exist at the time like sexting, internet safety and online porn. The curriculum also put a strong focus on abstinence as “healthy sexuality” and covered the “consequences of engaging in sexual activities.”
The 2015 curriculum started sex-ed earlier (in Grade 1) and covered more of the nuances of sexuality including gender identity, consent, birth control and recognizing healthy and unhealthy relationships.
A lot of people are outraged at the change.
Unfortunately no. Ontario is reverting to 1998 sex-ed curriculum. As ridiculous and outdated as using 1998 technology. It’s the wrong direction for our students.
— Chris Cowley (@OTFpresFEO) July 13, 2018
Dear @ONeducation, I am a #physician & parent & I have signed this petition in protest of changes to #Ontario‘s #sexed curriculum. Our kids must learn about issues that are relevant to 2018, not 1998! #cyberbullying #consent #MeToo #genderdiversity https://t.co/6fthmupbsy
— Deepa Kattail, MD (@DeepaKattail) July 13, 2018
Ontario’s education minister says sex-ed in coming school year will be an older version, pre-dating social media and equal marriage. The triumph of bigotry and ignorance over the protection and well-being of children. #onpoli
— Michael Coren (@michaelcoren) July 11, 2018
Rolling sexual health curriculum back 20 years endangers Ontario’s youth.
The Ford gov’t has effectively removed consent, online safety, and LGBTQ+ families from the curriculum, including healthy relationships.
— Catherine Fife (@CFifeKW) July 11, 2018
Research shows that better sex education leads to lower instances of STIs and unwanted pregnancy. Parents and educators are concerned about what the gaps in the curriculum will mean for their children.
One concerned teacher has taken it upon herself to educate the province’s youth. Nadine Thornhill of Toronto has raised over $5,000 to fund short educational videos that cover those tough topics no longer addressed by the school system.
The Conservative government has said they will be working to create their own updated sex-ed curriculum and consulting parents during the process.