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New Ontario Sex Ed Curriculum
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By Mike Toth


A recent report out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, chronicled a private school foray into the somewhat murky and controversial subject of sexual education. The director of the Gaia Democratic School took a group of students, some as young as 11 years old, to the Smitten Kitten sex toy store where they were able to peruse the different adult and novelty products offered for sale (though pornographic materials were off limits), and to attend educational workshops. School administration has indicated they probably would not repeat the trip due to parent reactions.

While we haven't (apparently) reached that level of freedom in Ontario, recent developments with the new Health and Physical Education curriculum, which includes a revised sex ed portion which encompasses grades 1-12 in two different curricula has caused some controversy. While the 224 page documents (one for grades 1-8 and one for grades 9-12) can be daunting for parents, and a comprehensive review of them would be impossible in this format, the curricula can be found quite readily on the Internet for interested parents, and interested they should be.

The curricula was originally slated to be used in 2010, but were shelved due to protests, primarily from religious groups. There have been protests, especially in Toronto, in response the latest version, which is due to go into force in the fall of 2015, but the issue seems to have fallen from public attention at this time. There are a few key things that parents need to know, however.

While the curricula are meant to be quite unifying for the school systems across Ontario, there will be a vast difference in how it is applied and taught. The basic teaching points, called "specific expectations,” are laid out, but "teacher prompts" and examples given are only suggestions on how to proceed and answer children's questions. It will be up to the individual teachers as to how far they delve into the different aspects of sexuality, especially as the children advance in grade and the lessons become less about biology and more about gender and the mechanics of sex.

This wide variance in response was seen in the implementation of the anti-discrimination legislation a couple of years ago. While most local schools reacted conservatively, at least one local school saw it as an opportunity. The school library focused on a specific part of the bill and decorated with gay friendly colors and slogans, and prominently displayed gay focused books in a celebration of gay culture. Both types of schools, those implementing the legislation conservatively and those implementing more flamboyantly, were well within their prerogative.

An unsettling aspect about the new curricula is the effect on Christian educators in the secular system. Many Christian teachers are feeling squeezed as their faith is not only increasingly under attack on a personal level, but are faced with school systems that are engaging increasingly in teaching “social change” in addition to preparing children to succeed in life. Some of these social changes run contrary to a traditional Christian view, and these sex ed curricula are no exception. Some educators have expressed the opinion that they foresee a time soon when they will have to choose between their career and their faith. Losing Christian teachers, whether they are vocal about their faith or living out their tightly held beliefs quietly, would be a tragedy, and we should be praying for them.

An option parents who object to the curricula have is to pull the children from the sex ed portion of the school year. There is great wisdom in preserving childhood innocence as long as possible. Parents need to understand, though, that children may not be able to opt out of portions of the curricula that are covered by the anti-discrimination legislation.

The difficulty is that the curricula are simply a microcosm of the pressures Christian families are facing these days. Whether those Christian families are two parent, single parent, or even grandparent homes, the challenge of bringing up children goes far beyond questions of sexuality and what the schools teach about it.

While churches and Christian education when available can be powerful and even definitive allies, education in all its forms (Christian, character, academics, etc.) must begin at home. Christian parents need to understand what they believe and why, and impart that to their children. Whether children attend the new curricula or not they should be trained in Godly sexuality at home (Proverbs 22:6). Whether children are able to attend a Christian school or not they should be trained in Godly character at home. Sheltering children from objectionable content is a wonderful defensive strategy, but teaching children what is right is even more imperative than teaching what is wrong.

PEACE Ontario (www.peaceontario.com) is a great starting point for parents to educate themselves about the curricula. The curricula can be found at www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/health.html.