With the start of a new school year just over three weeks away, about a half dozen families in Ontario have united and are launching a human rights challenge over the province’s decision to roll back the sex-ed curriculum.
“The Ontario Human Rights Code provides protection from discrimination in services,” said Marcus McCann, one of the lawyer’s involved in the case. “We’ll be challenging it under gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation and gender.”
Families in the court challenge say that the old version puts their children at risk because, among other things, it doesn’t teach gender identity.
The lead applicant in the case is an 11-year-old transgender student due to start Grade 6 in September.
The Ford government has said it will be revamping the curriculum but in the meantime, it will revert back to the 1998 version.
Mika Imai, who is one of the other lawyers, said many parents feel that the new curriculum makes students feel “safer and more included.”
“It provided vital information and it changed the climate at schools,” Imai said.
Trans parent and educator J. Wallace said because the 2015 curriculum acknowledged the existence of trans and non-binary students, it helps teachers to educate their students.
“Teachers asking questions about how to teach puberty to a class that includes a trans student, how to respectfully introduce a student’s new pronouns,” Wallace said.
“It’s not enough but it’s been the only curriculum document [that] specifically said to trans and non-binary students: we know that you exist and we know that you matter.”
Lawyers say the modernized curriculum, which addressed issues of sexuality and gender, made students feel safer in school and created a more informed and inclusive climate by educating teachers and students on important issues.
Scrapping that curriculum, introduced by the Liberal government in 2015, was one of Premier Doug Ford’s main campaign promises during the spring election campaign.