I write this the day before the Liberal government will reveal a new sex-education curriculum that will be rolled out in Ontario schools next September. Ontario’s sex-education curriculum has been outdated and in desperate need of modernizing for a long time. Five years ago, the Liberal government put forward the idea to update the sex-education curriculum but backed down after outcry from political and social conservatives. I have no doubts there will once again be outcry from political and social conservatives. While sources say there will be no backing down by the Liberal government, I will believe that in September when the curriculum is in schools. As for the outcry from political and social conservatives, the government needs to do what’s best for Ontario and its students and that is updating the curriculum.
We need an updated sex-education curriculum because Ontario is not doing so well in any area regarding sex. A large piece of this update is to include consent in the curriculum. Every sexual assault offender, unless from outside of Ontario, has sat in an Ontario school classroom for sex-education. With sexual assault rates rising while all other violent crime is decreasing, there was clearly a gap in learning about sexual assault and consent. It’s actually very frightening that people from all age categories are unable to explain or define what consent is. What’s even more frightening is the blatant disregard of consent.
One of the news headlines today read that students in the 4th grade will learn about the dangers of sexting. Many of the comments that followed were outraged that 9 and 10 year olds will be learning about sexting. Children this age and much younger are being given cell phones and webcams. If a child has a cell phone with a camera or a webcam, they need to learn about sexting no matter how young they are. In my opinion, if you don’t want your child learning about sexting at that age, don’t give them a cell phone or webcam so young.
We also need a sex-education curriculum update because we have multiple generations of people who don’t understand what healthy relationships are. People of all ages do not understand what an abusive relationship looks like or when they are being abusive in a relationship. Among the younger generations, it seems to be the idea of being controlling means that my partner cares and that I have a right to control the person I am dating. An outdated sex-education curriculum is setting up children for failure in their romantic relationships.
I would also like to see the sex-education curriculum become less heternormative (focusing on male-female relationships as the norm). Despite gains made by the LGBTQ community, homophobia and transphobia is still widespread and is present in schools. Sex-education should be inclusive of all gender identities and sexualities.
I’m looking forward to reading what the new sex-education curriculum will include. I’m even more excited to see updated sex-education being taught in our schools. There will be outcry but the bottom line is Ontario’s children will one day become Ontario’s adults. This change isn’t just for children; it’s for the province as a whole to move towards positive changes in sex and relationships.
Sources: Martin Regg Cohn: The sex-ed update Ontario badly needs in the Toronto Star (February 22, 2015).
Photo from: Wellness Education Consiglio