Health Officials Fight For Sex-Ed Curriculum file photo of Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, June 24, 2015.

A group of more than 1,700 health professionals and social workers says rolling back the sex-ed curriculum is putting children’s health on the line.

The group is calling on the Ford government to stop its plan to roll back the curriculum to the one that was developed in 1998. The names of more than 1,780 doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, midwives, and social workers are on a petition that was delivered to Queen’s Park on Tuesday by Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

“We have a responsibility to protect young people from bullying and cyberbullying, provide them with information that can protect them from abuse and sexually transmitted infections, and help them understand healthy relationships,” said Horwath. “Doug Ford’s plan to plow ahead with a sex ed curriculum that was written before Google existed not only shortchanges students — it puts their health at risk. Let’s not allow our children’s health, including their safety and mental health, to be put at risk because of Ford’s politics.”

Ford announced during the election campaign that he would scrap the updated curriculum. After the election, the government said teachers would use the old curriculum while the province embarked on widespread consultations in an effort to create a new curriculum.

Among the physicians at Tuesday’s news conference was Dr. Andrea Chittle, a family doctor from Guelph.

“Our children are entitled to comprehensive education about sexual and reproductive health,” said Chittle. “The Canadian Paediatric Society points out that an out-of-date and incomplete sex-ed curriculum is a potential source of harm for Ontario’s children and youth, because it increases the risk of misinformation, discrimination, disease and abuse. As a family physician, and a mom, I think we have a critical responsibility to do better for our kids.”

In addition to the individuals who signed the petition, several groups including the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario, the Association of Ontario Midwives, Canadian Women in Medicine, the Ontario Association of Social Workers, and Planned Parenthood have added their names.