Opposition parties decry move they say won't help province's youth
Thursday July 12, 2018
Premier Doug Ford's government will switch Ontario back to its former sex-ed curriculum, his education minister announced Wednesday. (Tijana Martin/Canadian Press)
Ontario's education minister says the sex-ed curriculum taught to children in the coming school year will be an older version, not the controversial updated program brought in by the previous government.
Lisa Thompson said Wednesday ministry staff are working to inform school boards of the decision to revert to the curriculum that was in place before 2015.
Thompson said the ministry will be moving quickly to consult parents on how to update the curriculum, and details on that process will be coming soon.
Premier Doug Ford promised to repeal and replace the controversial sex-ed curriculum when he ran for the Progressive Conservative leadership and repeated the pledge during the spring election.
The new curriculum sparked controversy, particularly among social conservatives, when the Liberal government introduced it.
It was the first time the curriculum had been updated since 1998 and included warnings about online bullying and sexting, but protesters zeroed in on discussions of same-sex marriage, gender identity and masturbation.
Opposition calls plan 'disappointing'
The PC Party's plans sparked immediate reaction.
Tanya Granic Allen, who ran unsuccessfully against Ford for the PC leadership on a platform focused on getting rid of the new sex-ed curriculum, tweeted simply: "Great work!"
Granic Allen had hoped to run as an MPP, but was dumped by the PC party over comments she'd made in the past that Ford called "irresponsible."
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she finds the decision "disappointing," adding the curriculum needed to be updated to cover a range of topics facing youth today.
Instead, she said, the government is taking an approach that is "not the right direction for the kids of this province."
Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner accused Ford's government of "declaring war on modern life," by going back to a curriculum that was written in the early days of the internet.
Schreiner said the move amounts to taking away key tools from teachers and called it inappropriate.
Brittany Smith of the advocacy group Leadnow, which petitioned to keep the revised curriculum, called Ford's move "ideologically driven" and "pure politics."
"He's really making this decision to appease the religious right and far-right factions of his base who helped him get elected," Smith told CBC Toronto.
"This is a cynical political decision of his, and children across Ontario are being made to pay the price."
At least one outspoken critic of the Liberals' curriculum wants to know what the PCs plan to do next.
Farina Siddiqui of Mississauga, Ont., kept her two daughters home from school to protest the curriculum.
She concedes that the 1998 curriculum needed "revisions."
But, she says, changes "should be widely consulted with community leaders, with parents, with faith leaders, with educators and with the experts."
Smith and other supporters of the now-scrapped curriculum say it was the result of careful and thorough consultation.
Repair funds needed
Thompson also said the ministry is looking into how to replace a $100-million fund earmarked for school repairs that was cut earlier this month.
The money was to be paid out from revenues of the cap-and-trade system, which Ford began dismantling almost immediately after taking office, as he had promised.
Thompson said the government will try to find internal sources to replace the funding, which was announced in April and cut earlier this month, surprising school boards that had just begun to spend the money.
With files from CBC News