Logo for the Greater Essex County District School Board. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Public Board May Be Seeing Sex-Ed Backlash

Changes to sex-ed may be playing a role in the number of elementary students leaving the public school board for private education in the Leamington area.

The number of students leaving the Greater Essex County District School Board for private schools climbed to 138 by the fall, after sitting at 75 students in the spring of this year.

Superintendent of Education John Howitt was surprised by the increase in the Leamington area and says the board will work to get those students back.

“By reaching out, by opening the doors, by working with the faith leaders, by word of mouth by our existing families and our staff,” says Howitt. “We’re really looking forward to winning those families back. They trust us. They know we offer good programs and when they get the appropriate information, we’re looking forward to welcoming them back.”

Howitt says confusion over the updated health and physical education curriculum — specifically the portion centered on sexual education — may have played a role in students switching schools.

“Anecdotally, it’s around some curriculum changes and significant misinformation around those curriculum changes,” says Howitt.

Despite the departures to private schools, Howitt announced the public board has seen 65 more elementary school students enrol in the public system than was projected in the spring. The number of high school students in the public system remained virtually status quo.