What teachers think of Ontario‘s sex-ed repeal


I think if we were to go back to the ’98 curriculum right now, in the climate that we live in, I really fear for trans, queer, questioning children, and how they respond to a curriculum that effectively erases them. I think the big difference, for me, between the 1998 curriculum and the 2010-2015 curriculum was that the latter document was more inclusive. It talked about LGBTQI2S identities. It introduced topics of consent. It brought up a more sophisticated discussion of sex and sexuality for youngsters who are growing up in a digital age. When I started in teaching, you had sort of two perspectives on health class: one was what we called the plumbing, the nuts and bolts of what goes where – and that’s from a heterosexual viewpoint – and also what can happen. I don’t think intentionally, but the curriculum was really weighted toward the risks, and not so much toward rewards and only a little toward responsibility and how you’re responsible for keeping yourself and other people safe. Pleasure wasn’t addressed, and in terms of consent, really the only thing we addressed that I recall teaching was – the harm reduction at the time was abstinence and not getting drunk because you’re vulnerable. And that was it. There wasn’t really any talk of how to negotiate a safe relationship, or to make someone use a condom. We are in a secular society, in a secular, publicly funded education environment, where teachers must teach these things to keep their students safe. I have personally had students who have sent pictures of their breast to people, and then found that it was right out there. That’s something that we need to be addressing early on, that you don’t send pictures of your private parts. This should not be news to kids in Grade 7. Children today are passing around a lot more information, whether it’s reliable or not. Then when it comes to our role as a teacher, it’s not so much that we’re introducing information; we’re contextualizing it. There is no way that a majority of children in Grade 7 and 8 haven’t already at least heard of anal and oral intercourse. They’ve probably, very likely, witnessed it on a friend’s smartphone. So now, my role as a teacher in that room is not to give them the how-to of anal and oral sex. The lesson was about awareness of STI prevention, and that abstinence, including from anal and oral intercourse, is a way of preventing STIs. That’s the lesson. I have yet to have any student in my class who we’ve discussed sex and they got some look in their eye and you thought ‘Oh no, what have I created!’ It’s usually, they look kind of amused, or thoughtful, or they’re putting it together and saying ‘Oh, is this why this –’ and from what I can see, the kids actually are sort of less interested. Because let’s face it, once the teacher has discussed it for a long time, it’s not really the big exciting thing. The idea that we are somehow introducing same-sex marriage in the third grade is really preposterous. When Premier Wynne brought back the curriculum, I happened to have a third grade home room. In that home room, I had a little boy who had two moms. So we’re not introducing anything in that class. We’re contextualizing something that’s already there. Now we’re being told that we’re not to address that unless kids bring it up. So that puts the onus back on the students. I suspect that what I and a lot of other teachers will be doing is using the question box method, where you don’t know who put that question in the box, therefore you have to say it to the whole class. Because I am certainly not taking a student out to the corridor to have a private conversation because they have asked – ‘If I’m thinking about kissing another boy, does that mean I’m gay?’ So am I supposed to say ‘Can you hold that thought until recess and then we’ll discuss it? Because it’s definitely not a weird question. But we can’t share it with the class.’ We are an Ontario composed of all kinds of families, and to take that out of a curriculum seems to be an attempt to take it away from the world that we’re in. It just feels like – disrespectful, and a sheer disregard for youth, for the future, for this generation. Having a curriculum that acknowledges the landscape of sexuality and gender diversity tells all children in the classroom that they have a place in school, and that they belong and that they are welcomed. I see the repealing of it as a terrible thing. A terrible disservice to our kids, a terrible disservice for people like me, who feel like maybe they need to go back in the closet because I’m not supposed to be talking about these things openly in class, terrible for families and terrible for human rights.

8 Comments

  1. I agree with what they are saying, but they aren't mentioning anything about how the 1998 curriculum teaches gender roles that could hurt the futures of children. Want to study medical sciences? Well, as a girl, nursing is a great job. Want to help people with their personal life? You're a guy, so go into bartending.

  2. Teachers unions make me sick. I feel sorry for the good teachers who must be part of this madness. The teachers union like most public unions are always looking for a reason to stir up trouble to justify their existence! Always striking for the children. Why in the world would any sane person allow public monopolies to be unionized thereby setting the taxpayers up to be blackmailed? When Ford goes on strike, I can buy a GM. Not so when government monopolies like teachers go on strike. My kids are now finished university and we dealt with strikes at various points throughout their entire time in school. The strategy of left leaning politicians is to give the teachers union what it wants (which is always more) and they in return, vote them into power. They scratch each others backs while the taxpayer gets the bill. I want to see education come into the 20th century where only the best teachers teach via the internet. Jordan Peterson has some interesting ideas on this topic. The money we as taxpayers throw at education for what we get is a outrage. It's time to seriously shake up this profession.

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