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Ontario's New Sex-Ed Curriculum Sparks Debate Among Canadian Parents

| by Jared Keever
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Ontario public schools haven’t updated their sex-education curriculum since 1998. And now that they have, many parents in the Canadian province are not happy, saying the students are too young to learn some of things slated to be taught. 

CBC News reports Ontario Education Minister Liz Sandals unveiled the new curriculum Monday in Toronto. The information will be taught in schools beginning in September, she said. 

Sandals acknowledged there might be some push back from parents. 

“I anticipate there will be members of various religions who may object to one thing or another … but the curriculum is the curriculum that will be taught in Ontario schools,” she said during the unveiling, according to the Toronto Star

She was right. As many as 2,000 parents were reportedly planning to protest in Toronto Tuesday, saying the curriculum provides too much information too early and lacks proper parental involvement. 

Proponents of the new curriculum say the update was needed because the old lessons did not include information about same-sex marriage, although such unions have been legal in Canada for more than a decade. Elementary students will also be taught how to protect themselves online and be introduced to concepts like “sexting.” Others say the new lessons simply bring the province’s schools up to speed with other Canadian schools who have already revamped their sex-ed curriculums. 

Jacki Yovanoff, a mother of four, told the Toronto Star she welcomed the changes although she understood some parents’ reticence to accept the curriculum.

“I understand the concern — seeing (the terms) anal sex, oral sex in writing, especially in relation to elementary-age students takes you aback,” she said, but added that a closer inspection of the curriculum shows that it deals well with what children are currently experiencing on a daily basis. 

And that was the whole point behind the changes, Sandals said at the news conference, according to the Daily Mail

“The world had changed a lot in the last 15 years. Concepts such as smartphones, SnapChat and sexting were not familiar to anyone, let alone students,” she said. “Today, we live in a digital and interconnected world where information is literally at our fingertips around the clock. Students have instant access to quite explicit information from unreliable, inaccurate and often offensive sources. This is why it's so important to ensure that our children have the right information.”

Sources: CBC News, Toronto Star, Daily Mail / Photo Credit: liberalamerica.orgCTV News