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Controversy over gender identity inclusion in new sex-ed curriculum

Despite promises from the premier, the new sex ed curriculum will still teach gender identity in Grade 8
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Ontario's Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, had announced the new sex-ed curriculum which drew strong comparisons to the previous Liberal curriculum. Mostly in regards to how similar the two were.

This comes after the Ford government initially scrapped the Liberal curriculum in favour of further consultation and a return to the 1998 curriculum, which drew harsh criticism.

The new curriculum sees the return of topics that the Wynne curriculum had covered such as bullying, sexting, same-sex relationships along with the new material covering cannabis and concussions.

Previous material under the Liberal government had been adjusted to older grades and in some cases younger.

The announcement has been met with some pushback.

Tanya Granic Allen, President, Parents As First Educators Inc. had previously ran for the Progressive Conservative leadership and was a vocal critic of the Wynne curriculum. 

She tells Kitchener Today with Brian Bourke on 570 NEWS her main concern was over the inclusion of gender identity, calling it "unproven" and "radical".

"That was something that actually Doug Ford himself specifically voiced as a concern with the Kathleen Wynne sex-ed curriculum." she says. "I think Doug Ford was right. In February 2008 he said that that's one of the things he promised to stop teaching and now we have another Doug Ford lie. He's flip-flopped on his own very word."

The previous Wynne curriculum taught gender identity in Grade 6 with the new curriculum moving it to Grade 8.

Parents still have the option to opt out of having their children learn certain aspects of the sex-ed curriculum with the Ford government standardizing the process across the province.

"Obviously an opt out is good, but we had that with Kathleen Wynne. We had that, so what is new here? Nothing is new. Nothing has been repealed. Doug Ford lied."

"I'm for teaching sex-ed in the classrooms, I'm a proponent of that, but let's get back to basics and not start teaching our six-year-olds radical ideologies that Doug Ford himself decried as being a problem with the Kathleen Wynne sex ed."

Lyndsey Butcher, Executive Director, SHORE Centre says this type of thinking was frustrating for many Trans students in the school system.

"Incredibly unempathetic to how difficult it is for Trans students to come out as Trans. You know, the idea that people would just pick this because it is a fad or because they want to be popular, I mean in no way born out in reality."

She says it's crucial for schools to be able to teach gender identity especially in regards to the safety and mental health of Trans students. According to Butcher, Grade Eight was "far too late" for students who have questions or who have transitioned or were in the process of transitioning.

"Without that, what we're seeing is bullying and in some cases violence that these Trans students are experiencing, so it's quite critical that young people understand gender identity, the concept, the experience, so they can build acceptance for that within the school."

Overall, she says the consultations show the original Liberal curriculum was not as controversial as the Ford government thought.

"Overwhelming the response is across the province were in support of kids understanding how their body works, understanding healthy relationships, consent."

Meanwhile, Catherine Fife, MPP for Waterloo says the Ford government was trying to appease social Conservatives and that they should have never gone through this process in the first place.

"We shouldn't even be having this conversation in 2019 and the fact that this was a very demeaning and demoralizing year for the LGBTQ students and their families who had to fight this government in court to even have this win." 

"The fact that there are social Conservatives who consider a student who is gay to be lesser than other students, I have no tolerance for that intolerance."




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