The government of Ontario will face a human rights lawsuit after scrapping an LGBT-inclusive sex 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.
But right-wing Premier of Ontario Doug Ford tossed out the curriculum in July as his party swept to power in the province, following through on a promise he had made to anti-LGBT conservatives.
Ontario Education Minister Lisa Thompson said the new regional government would restore teachings on sex and relationship education in Ontario to the standards first issued in 1998, which make no mention of LGBT issues.
However a group of families are now planning a legal challenge over the decision, arguing that the previous curriculum is a violation of the human rights of LGBTQ students.
According to the National Post, the lead plaintiff in the case is a 11-year-old transgender girl.
Lawyer Mika Imai said: “[The change is] going to have a huge impact on, particularly, LGBTQ students. We see that as discriminatory and contrary to the code.”
NDP MPP Peggy Sattler said: “If kids don’t see themselves in what they learn, if they don’t feel there is a safe space for them to just be themselves – of course that will cause harm.
“This case is urgent, and I hope these families will be successful.”
NDP MPP Catherine Fife added: “Doug Ford is dragging Ontario backwards.
“He is taking our province from bad to worse – and nowhere is that more evident than with his decision to put LGBTQ+ youth at risk by forcing the use of the old, 1998 sex ed curriculum.”
Sattler added: “This is about the safety of kids in Ontario. Parents speak passionately about the fact that the 1998 curriculum will mean that their kids do not have the information they need to stay safe.
“Doug Ford should listen to these families and do what’s best for the children of Ontario, he must stop prioritizing the wishes of his social conservative friends and start prioritizing the safety of young Ontarians.”
Meanwhile nearly 1,800 doctors, nurses, social workers and health care providers have signed a petition warning that abolishing the modern inclusive curriculum puts children’s health at risk.
Dr. Andrea Chittle said: “It is imperative that children learn about difference and inclusivity, consent and safety.
“The human development and sexual health components of the 2015 curriculum are critically important for informed decision-making related to health behaviours and relationships.”