For those who know me, it will not come as a big surprise that I am not a big Doug Ford fan. I just can’t abide by someone who prioritizes the price of beer over the price of healthy nutritious food or prescription drugs for the working poor. I could go on all day about the things over which he and I would disagree. However, one that strikes close to home is his decision to eliminate the updated sex education curriculum.
While I realize this is a contentious topic, I believe that a big reason that it is such a hot tamale is that someone decided to call it “sex” education. For some people this leads them to believe that teachers are showing second graders how to put on condoms. The whole “sex” education thing is a total misnomer. This curriculum isn’t just about sex. It’s about safety. It’s about identity. It’s about belonging. It’s about acceptance. It’s about consent. It’s about self-confidence. It’s about knowing what a healthy relationship looks like. It’s about everything our children need to lead healthy happy lives.
The Vocal Minority
Sadly, opponents of the curriculum have focused on one small part – that which discusses sexual identity. Unfortunately for some kids, it will come as a surprise that not everyone on the planet is straight up heterosexual. It may be shocking that princes don’t always marry princesses, live in castles, have 2.3 children, and parade around in horse-drawn SUV’s. It is those kids for whom this is news that need most to be informed, and yet theirs are the parents who are most likely to be highly vocally opposed.
People apparently actually believe that not talking about something will somehow make it not exist. This is an approach somewhat akin to our dear ex-mayor’s comment about homeless people – “They’re like pigeons. Just don’t feed them and they’ll go away.” Honestly, it’s 2018.
The Brainwashing that Never Was
If people truly believe that their kids hearing about homosexuality will “turn” them gay, then by the same token I should surely have been “turned” straight when I was a kid. Strange, somehow that brainwashing didn’t turn out. You see, I have known that I was different since around about kindergarten or grade one. I didn’t quite know how but I just knew that I was. Seeing as how I never had anyone tell me that anything other than princes marrying princesses even existed I spent my entire childhood thinking I was a totally abnormal freak. Gee, that’s a healthy mindset for a young child don’t you think?
I tried to convince myself I was like everyone else, but when you don’t even have a vocabulary to define how you are different, how on earth do you become like everyone else? I sure as heck never figured that one out. Other than a very few close friends, I always felt like an outsider. I never truly belonged.
As a result of trying to fit in, I put myself in situations with boys that I didn’t want to be in. I had experiences for no other reason than to try to feel something, anything for the opposite sex. In short, I put myself at risk for absolutely no good reason and all because no one ever gave me the information I needed to figure out who I really was.
I assure you that my childhood would have been totally different had I known early on what homosexuality was. Had someone told me that I was not the only person on the planet who was not attracted to the opposite sex, I am certain things would have been different. Perhaps my first experience could have been borne on caring and tenderness rather than desperation and fear.
The Price of Ignorance
Being a parent myself now, I am infuriated that one ignorant man can make a decision to revoke this curriculum. As so succinctly stated in this article featuring Nadine Thornhill, a Toronto educator who is creating YouTube videos of the nixed curriculum for all to access,
“Thornhill says parents have a right to share their personal values with their children, even if they conflict with what is taught in schools, but she argues that personal beliefs should not get in the way of students getting the facts about sexuality. ‘What we don’t have a right to do is decide that based on our personal values that we are going to marginalize certain people or make them invisible, or that we are going to teach them inaccurate information because it conflicts with our personal values,’ she said.”
Exactly. This is pretty much up there with teaching kids the earth is flat or that people of colour should be enslaved. Just because there are still people who believe these things doesn’t make it okay to teach in our schools.
I am seething that one ignoramus has decided to put the lives of children who are anything other than binary heterosexual at risk. Research shows that for LGBT+ children, the risk of suicide is significantly higher when they are unable to come out in a safe environment. The new curriculum was saving lives, but hey who cares about a few freakazoids anyways, right Doug?
Even if your kids are heterosexual, they are also now at greater risk since our dear Premier has decided that our children’s teachers shouldn’t talk about such important topics as consent and the right to decide who touches your body and how, what to consider when posting images of yourself online, and that a healthy relationship is one based on mutual respect and good communication, not emotional or physical abuse.
Despite all of this, here we are back in 1998 when smart phones didn’t exist, words like sexting and cyberbullying were not a part of our vocabulary, LGBT+ kids didn’t dare tell anyone about who they were, and same-sex marriage was illegal. Not only should we hide our faces in shame over this setback, I guess we shouldn’t travel too far either for fear of falling off the edge of the earth. Honestly, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs and Artistotle must be turning over in their graves.