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Advocate Says Sex-Ed Curriculum Shouldn’t Be Changed

The thought of consent not being taught as part of the sex-ed curriculum in Ontario has one executive director of a sexual assault crisis centre very worried.

The decision to revert back to the same curriculum written in 1998 was announced Wednesday by the Ford government and has seen quite a bit of backlash all over social media. Concerns stem from the fact the old curriculum predate gay-marriage, transgender acceptance, and social media.

“I was really encouraged and hopeful by the curriculum that had been implemented,” said Michelle Schryer, the executive director of the Sexual Assault Crisis Centre of Chatham-Kent. “Certainly in terms of promoting awareness of consent, what consent means, what constitutes consent and what doesn’t constitute consent.”

Schryer added safety issues around sexting and online matters only became a focus of the curriculum in the past few years. She said despite many years of progress, the curriculum still has a long way to go and even a child could tell you moving backwards certainly isn’t the answer.

“As my 11-year-old great niece was telling me just this morning, it’s important that young people have accurate information,” Schryer said. “So I’m thinking to myself ‘Wow! If she understands that, how can it be that an entire provincial government does not?”

In the government’s defense, it announced parents will be consulted to see what they want to be included in their children’s sexual education curriculum. Schryer knows what consultations can look like and said she’s encouraged if the Tories do it properly.

Her only worry is if it becomes biased.

“I hope the parents they choose to consult with aren’t selected carefully from constituencies where they may hold a specific attitude about educating students about sex and matters regarding the LGBTQ community,” Schryer said. “I hope very much they choose to leave the curriculum as it is.”

As for those claiming sex-ed should be taught by parents and kept out of school, Schryer said it is the parents’ job to teach their kids about sexuality, but it doesn’t paint the whole picture.

“There are some serious issues that are not taught at home that must be taught at school to create a more respectful society,” Schryer said. “A safer society for all youth whether they’re females at risk of sexual assault, males at risk for sexual assault, whether it’s for the LGBTQ community, our society needs to be safe for everybody and our educational systems most certainly has a role in promoting a safer society.”

Schryer dispelled the notion that sex-ed teaches students how to go out and have sex and said it is meant to help kids protect themselves from unwanted sexual situations and to understand sexuality in all its forms.

She added if the provincial government chooses to truly go back to the curriculum from 20 years ago, she will be at the forefront of educating MPPs about the consequences.