Let’s act our age about sex ed

Image by: Kia Kortelainen

Parents and public educators need to play ball before their kids strike out.

The “Parents & Students on strike: one week, no school” Facebook group encouraged parents to dig their heels in against Ontario’s new sex ed curriculum by keeping their children home from school. Many listened.

Thorncliffe Park, North America’s largest public elementary school, saw around half of its students absent while some parents gathered in the park opposite to hold their own classes outdoors in protest.

The reaction to the updated topics in the public sex ed curriculum which include masturbation, consent, sexual orientation and gender identity is unsurprising, considering the curriculum was last updated in 1998.

The most effective method would have been to gradually update the curriculum to meet evolving needs, so the sudden overhaul is understandably shocking.

That being said, the need for education around sex and sexual intercourse cannot be denied.

What constitutes consent or one’s right to freedom from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation isn’t up for discussion. Eliminating ambiguity or misunderstanding makes us safer from sexual assault or debilitating discrimination.

What is up for debate is the best way to administer this education. While parents continue to feel their concerns are being ignored, there’s little trust between them and the provincial government.

This relationship needs to be mended so public education can fulfill its intended purpose of providing equal education to all students.

Reconciling the aims of the new curriculum with the diverse cultural and religious backgrounds of its intended recipients might be achieved if the government provides further clarification of those aims or gives parents the chance to voice their concerns and be heard.

There’s another lesson that students are learning here, and that’s how to resolve your problems when you don’t agree with someone.

Rejecting education due to differing opinions is deeply damaging to both individuals and society. A lack of education will never be the solution.

Journal Editorial Board

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