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Advocates speak out against Ontario's rollback on sex-ed curriculum

Last Updated Jul 13, 2018 at 6:16 pm EDT

Sexual health advocates gathered Friday to speak out against the Ontario PC government’s decision to repeal the current sex-ed curriculum.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who joined other advocates at The 519 on Church Street, said the move is a huge step backwards.

“The curriculum that Doug Ford is going to force teachers to use this fall will be a curriculum that was written, that was produced, that was taught 25 years ago … before social media, before texting, before same-sex marriage was legal in our province,” Horwath said.

On Wednesday, the province announced schools will go back to teaching the same sex-ed curriculum they did in the late 1990s.

The leader of Ontario’s Opposition said that the decision to repeal the modernized sex-ed curriculum was a move to please social conservatives and one that would hurt the province’s children.

Horwath called on Ford to keep the 2015 iteration of the curriculum brought in by the previous Liberal government, saying the 1998 version it was being temporarily replaced with was woefully out of date.

“Doug Ford cares more about the favours that he owes to social conservatives than he does about keeping our young people safe,” said the NDP leader, arguing that Ford was aiming to please those who helped him win the party leadership earlier this year.

“He made back room deals with far-right lobbyists to force this outdated sex-education curriculum on students.”

Mitzie Hunter, former Liberal Education Minister, has previously said a rewind on the plan is not serving children’s educational future.

“First of all, (1998) was 12 education ministers ago — that’s last century,” she said.

“I think it’s an insult to students today that are growing up in a world that’s completely different. They have to cope with a world that is digital and real. It’s the job of the adults in their lives to protect those students and to provide them the best education possible.”

Education Minister Lisa Thompson announced earlier this week they were revoking the updated version of the curriculum brought in by the previous regime.

The older curriculum will remain in effect until the government completes a “fulsome consultation respecting parents” on how to modernize the material, she said.

The newer sex-ed curriculum sparked controversy, particularly among social conservatives, when the Liberal government introduced it three years ago.

Parents unleashed their backlash over the new curriculum at the onset, with some removing their children from classes in protest. Some religious groups said the curriculum does not align with their values and is not appropriate for school-age children.

Critics said it was too graphic and the content wasn’t age appropriate.

The curriculum taught students about gender identity, sexual orientation and masturbation, as well as healthy relationships, consent and online safety.