Ontario Government Gets Mixed Reactions on Revising Sex Education
When Doug Ford's government took office in June of 2018, one of the major promises they brought forward was to do what they called 'a proper consultation' on the sex education curriculum and the overall education system itself.
Ford promised to 'go back to basics' during the campaign and put more emphasis on subjects such as mathematics, and a public consultation process was launched back in October.
That consultation has concluded as of December 15, 2018. According to a government press release, it included more than 72,000 engagements across three different consultation channels, which included an open submission form, online survey and telephone town halls held in every region of the province.
There were eleven times more engagements in these consultations than in the previous 2014 Health and Physical Education curriculum consultations, focusing on the following areas:
Improving student performance in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)
Preparing students with needed job skills, such as skilled trades and coding
Improving provincial standardized testing
Ensuring students graduate with important life skills, including financial literacy
Managing the use of technology in classrooms, such as cell phones
Building a new age-appropriate Health and Physical Education curriculum that includes subjects like mental health, sexual health education and the legalization of cannabis
Developing the first-ever Parents' Bill of Rights
However, there may be some unwanted results from the government's own public survey, according to a report from CBC News.
ForTheParents.ca, the website the government set up for online consultation, showed an overwhelming majority of those who weighed in on the first day opposed his repeal of a modernized sex-ed curriculum introduced by the previous Liberal government, according to documents obtained by the Canadian Press.
Out of roughly 1,600 submissions to the website obtained through a freedom of information request, roughly two dozen supported the Progressive Conservative government’s decision to repeal the document and temporarily replace it with one based on the 1998 curriculum.
That 1998 curriculum that temporarily replaced the scrapped document was panned by critics who said it didn’t address themes like gender identity, consent and cyber-safety, which the government later announced will have an interim lesson plan that addressed those issues.
However, experts say the government's curriculum only contains passing mention of modern concepts such as the internet and cellphones.
In all honesty, it's doubtful that Ford himself really cares that much about the issue of the sex ed curriculum; he is more likely being driven to action by a socially conservative base of support within the Ontario PC party, spearheaded by people such as former leadership candidate Tanya Granic Allen (who is a big proponent of scrapping the Liberals' curriculum).
And as for the consultation, what exactly makes the Ford government's consultation any different or better than the consultations done by the previous government?
- Doug Ford is Looking for Ideas to Revamp Ontario's Education System
- Ontario Government Releases Sexual Education Curriculum
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- Ontario introduces new math curriculum for elementary students
- Mississauga Teachers Advised to Ignore Doug Ford’s Mandate on Sex-Ed Curriculum