Leave sex ed to the experts, not fear-mongering politicians

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Emma Teitel writes at the Toronto Star:

Doug Ford, the city councillor who once dreamed of catapulting Toronto into a future of monorails and megamalls, is more interested these days in hurling his province into the past. How so? This week Ford, who is vying for the leadership of the provincial Progressive Conservative party, announced that if he is elected premier, he will re-examine and possibly revise the updated Ontario Sex Ed curriculum — a forward-thinking, fact- based document that is paramount to the health and well-being of every young person in this province. A document that needs no revisions. However, a few years ago, it did.

For anyone who may have forgotten, Ontario’s sex education curriculum was in dire need of a post-internet update until 2015, when at long last, the provincial Liberals made the right call and introduced an amended version of the curriculum that included topics such as tolerance of LBGTQ people (third graders for example are now taught “ways of showing respect for differences in others”), proper names of genitalia (taught in Grade 1) and perhaps the most important update of all: a focus on consent throughout elementary and high school.

Ford, as well as Tanya Granic Allen, a socially conservative parent activist who entered the Tory leadership race this week, likely hope that reviving the sex-ed issue will also revive anger and concern among parents originally opposed to the updated program. “Unlike the Liberals,” Ford said in a statement recently, “I know that parents, not government, are our children’s first educators. The sex-ed curriculum should be about facts, not teaching liberal ideology.”

Of course it is about facts. It’s also disappointingly lacking in liberal ideology. Read it and yawn because it is positively unsalacious. Students aren’t required under the updated guidelines to explore their gender identities as previously feared, nor experiment with gay sex of any kind, nor even read Rose McGowan’s memoir. What are they required to do? Learn fact-based information that may protect them and their sexual partners down the road. Here’s an excerpt from the curriculum overview’s guidelines for grade 6: “Students will learn to make decisions in their personal relationships that show respect for themselves and others, including the importance of consent and clear communication.” Pretty racy stuff, right? No, not really.

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