Ontario leader Doug Ford axes LGBT-inclusive sex and relationship education
Doug Ford, the new Trump-style Premier of Ontario, Canada, is abolishing the region’s LGBT-inclusive sex and relationship education programme.
Ontario introduced an inclusive sex education curriculum in 2015, updating decades-old guidance to include teaching about same-sex couples and gender identity issues, as well as issues such as sexting.
The move led to sustained protests from parents and religious conservatives.
Premier of Ontario Doug Ford, whose party swept to power in the province last month, this week followed through on a pledge to abolish the reform.
Ontario Education Minister Lisa Thompson announced that the new regional government would restore teachings on sex and relationship education in Ontario to the standards first issued in 1998.
She confirmed to the Globe and Mail: “The sex-ed component is going to be reverted back to the manner in which it was prior to the changes that were introduced by the Liberal government.”
The government will also begin work on drawing up more conservative revised guidance.
Thompson said: “We’re going to be moving very swiftly in our consultations, and I will be sharing with you our process in the weeks to come.”
The decision has been criticised by experts, who noted it would leave children without any teaching on LGBT issues or the internet.
Cathy Abraham, president of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, pointed out it would leave students unprepared.
Abraham told the newspaper: “There are pieces of the curriculum that back in 1998 wouldn’t have been there because it hadn’t become a thing yet… this is about the safety of our children.”
Famous Canadian lesbian duo Tegan and Sara hit out at the decision.
A post on the pair’s Twitter says: “When I was in high school ‘homosexuality’ and its outdated clinical definition as a disease was included in the curriculum of my psychology class — albeit, lightly crossed out.
“That moment had a radical impact on me. My identity has been forever linked to the feeling of shame.
“When we omit crucial information from the curriculum we are in fact asserting that there is something fundamentally wrong with being LGBTQIA2S.
“Shame on the government. And shame on anyone who doesn’t get raging angry about our ELECTED officials walking back progress.”
Religious lobbying groups had led a push for the move.
A widely-circulated petition said: “We demand an end to plans announced by the Ministry of Education to update the sexual education curriculum with changes that parents oppose because they are graphic and age-inappropriate and don’t align with the principles of many religious and cultural groups.
“We do not believe that pre-pubescent children should be overloaded with graphic information about sex. As parents, grandparents, or other concerned Ontario voters we want to preserve their innocence as long as possible.
“In the realm of the formation of our children, parents are the first educators and have the greatest authority over how and when sensitive material is introduced to them. We expect the schools to support and not undermine parental authority.”