As back to school approaches next week, the controversies surrounding Ontario’s new curriculum are flaring up yet again. While there is a lot of support for the new curriculum, there’s almost equal amounts of pushback.
There have been dozens of articles posted online, almost daily, over the last couple weeks. If you read comments in response to the articles, it isn’t uncommon to come across comments such as:
“babies are born to mom's and dad's so they can guide them through life; that is common sense and that is why they are under parents authority…”
But you also have comments in support of said articles, such as this:
"...you think that the curriculum includes ideology, a "vision", of how things should be. The major problem with this is that the curriculum teaches facts & actualities of what currently happens in our society today. I have read every part of the curriculum that has to do with sex education and there is nothing in there that is untrue. if you disagree with facts or choose to ignore them - that it your problem and your ignorance showing."
There are copious research studies proving how abstinence-based education has a positive correlation with STI, teen pregnancy and abortion rates. Colorado offered a subsidy for birth control for teenagers in 2014 (IUDs, specifically) and their teen pregnancy rate dropped 40% that year. I think that's probably greater than statistical chance.
For some research evidence, there's the Teen Survey from 2010:http://www.wellesleyinstitute.com/…/…/2010/06/TTS_report.pdf and Healthy Futures from 2014: http://www.toronto.ca/…/20…/ts/bgrd/backgroundfile-80356.pdf
If people don't understand why we need sex ed, this quote says it all: "Many older students are having unsafe sex. By grade 12, one in three students reported having had sex. One in three sexually active students had more than one partner in the last 12 months. Only 60% had used a condom or other barrier the last time they had sex, increasing the likelihood of a sexually transmitted infection or pregnancy. Just 37% reported that their school sexual health class was very useful or essential."
33%, 1 in 3, a third of Grade 12 students in Toronto have had sex and nearly half didn't use a barrier method when engaging sexually. They need to get the information somewhere because we can't assume they're getting (correct) information at home, and relying on their friends (which is their #1 go-to for sex ed information as per these two studies) is not reliable either.
There’s also the religion debate (i.e. offended that sexual orientation and gender identity are discussed). However, I have heard numerous religious leaders and figures over the last few months say how they support the curriculum because at the heart of most religions is respecting and love people for who they are. Furthermore, we live in Canada – a country that supports marriage equality – as such, schools will promote diversity and inclusion that aligns with the law and Human Rights.
There is so much misinformation out there. The problem is, those who oppose the curriculum don’t listen to those who support it. Reversely, those who are pro-curriculum are not necessarily listening to those against it, and do not have the opportunity to respond to those concerns and unpack and explain the curriculum. Both sides - the pro- and anti-curriculum - need to listen to one another.
There are many other elements to the curriculum, (as stated in the curriculum documents: “Sexual health, understood in its broadest sense, can include a wide range of topics and concepts, from sexual development, reproductive health, choice and sexual readiness, consent, abstinence, and protection, to interpersonal relationships, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, affection and pleasure, body image, and gender roles and expectations.”) We are too busy focused on 1. The act of “sex” and 2. Sexual orientation and gender identity. These are two, relatively tiny, components of the overall curriculum. Not to mention Sex Ed only takes up 10% of the entire Health and Physical Education curriculum.
I would be happy to respond to any of your questions!