Granic Allen ran as a candidate in the Progressive Conservative Party leadership race on the sex education issue and her supporters helped get Ford elected as party leader in March. Granic Allen agrees the curriculum needs to be updated.  Photo courtesy of Deborah Gyapong

Ontario sex-ed curriculum back to drawing board

  • July 17, 2018

OTTAWA – The repeal of Ontario’s controversial sex education curriculum by the new government has elicited reactions ranging from jubilation to gloom among Catholic education stakeholders.

“This is great news for Ontario parents,” said Tanya Granic Allen, president of Parents as First Educators (PAFE). 

The province’s Catholic teachers’ union, however, called the move “a great disappointment” and suggested Ontario was  “going backward” and “doing students a disservice.”

The government of Doug Ford announced on July 11 it was immediately repealing the sex-ed curriculum introduced three years ago by the Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne. Schools have been instructed to use the curriculum as of 2014 until the completion of a thorough review, including broad parental consultation, can result in a revised curriculum, hopefully for the 2019 school year.

Meantime, Granic Allen wants the education minister to instruct schools to stop teaching what she calls “culturally insensitive” and “age-inappropriate” material, including gender theory.

“Also, parents must always be given advance notification of when sex-education lessons will be taught and must be given the opportunity to opt out without any repercussions from the school principal,” said Granic Allen.

Campaign Life Coalition also applauded the government decision.

“We are very happy to see the radical sex curriculum repealed,” said CLC National President Jim Hughes. “We look forward to the genuine consultations with parents and hope that Wynne’s ideological agenda will be scrapped completely.”

Ontario’s Catholic bishops gave a measured response to the decision to repeal. They pointed out that Ontario Catholic schools had been teaching the sex-ed curriculum in a manner that is faithful to Church teaching. That won’t change, the bishops said.

“While we have a responsibility to follow the curriculum set out by the Ministry of Education, we have always done so in a manner that conveys, respects and models Catholic principles to our students,” said London Bishop Ronald Fabbro, president of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario. “We will continue this tradition.

“As Catholics, we believe that parents and guardians are the primary educators of their children. The parental role in the teaching of family life issues is vital. ” 

Fabbro said the Catholic schools’ “Fully Alive” family life program “is consistent with our Catholic teachings, appropriate within the context of our Catholic classrooms and complementary to the efforts of parents to guide their children to full Christian maturity.”

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA), however, expressed “great disappointment” at the “decision to revert to the old Health and Physical Education curriculum,” which was launched in 1998.

“The role of the publicly-funded education system should be to foster awareness and respect. To this end, it is important for teachers to have relevant, up-to-date information and resources. By going backward, we are doing students a disservice, leaving them without the tools and knowledge to manage their relationships and personal well-being,” said a July 12 statement from the teachers’ union.

“As the government embarks on a new round of consultations, Catholic teachers will continue to advocate for a curriculum that properly equips students to face the realities of modern society,” the statement concluded.

Granic Allen agrees the curriculum needs to be updated. 

“What I find shocking, especially in a climate of social media, is Wynne completely failed to address the topic of pornography with the elementary school grades,” she said, noting the deputy minister of education who oversaw the curriculum’s design is now a convicted child pornographer. 

“Parents make a choice to send their children to Catholic schools and they expect Catholic moral teaching to be taught,” she said. 

Granic Allen ran as a candidate in the Progressive Conservative Party leadership race on the sex education issue and her supporters helped get Ford elected as party leader in March. She ran as a candidate in the Ontario election until Ford disqualified her for past comments that were deemed homophobic. Ford, however, kept a promise made to her and to other social conservatives that he would repeal the sex-ed curriculum.

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