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Some Ontario students will still learn the 2015 sex-ed curriculum

Last Updated Aug 29, 2018 at 9:52 am EST

As kids across Ontario prepare to head back to class, with some even opening the school door this week, parents are left scratching their head over just what will be taught to their child when it comes to the Health and Physical Education Curriculum (HPE).

To alleviate some confusion, both the Toronto District School Board and the Peel District School Board have released statements on what to expect in both elementary school and high school.

According to the statements, both TDSB and PDSB high school teachers will continue to teach the 2015 secondary school curriculum — including the revised sex-ed curriculum.

However, when it comes to elementary schools, the TDSB said it will be teaching the 2010 curriculum — which is really the 1998 curriculum.

The Director of Education for the TDSB said he’s confident teachers will “continue to deliver the provided curriculum in ways that align with Ministry direction, and create a learning environment for students that is safe, inclusive and focused on their success and well-being.”

“From the beginning, we have been vocal about our concerns with regards to the inclusion of important topics such as online safety, gender identities, sexual orientation, and consent. Our central staff have been reviewing both the 2010 and 2015 curriculum documents to determine which topics are covered and which are not. While that work is continuing, it is already clear that many important topics remain in the curriculum,” John Malloy wrote.

“While the wording may be different than the 2015 curriculum, the 2010 curriculum still contains many critically important topics. In some cases, these topics are now covered under “prompts” as opposed to “expectations,” but they remain in the curriculum. As a result, educators will continue to have discussions about diverse families, online safety, consent, etc.”

But elementary school teachers in Peel will have to wait before they put together their complete health plan.

The Peel Board said the Curriculum & Instruction Support Services is expected to send out a memo that will clarify elementary HPE curriculum expectations, as well as provide an analysis of the re-issued elementary HPE curriculum and the 2015 curriculum.

“Because we know there may be confusion in our school communities about what will and will not be taught in HPE after the ministry’s announcement, we will provide families with clarifying information in the coming days,” the memo from the Peel Board reads.

“It is also important that families know that they can share concerns about how their children are taught directly with teachers. As is our long-standing process, we will continue to encourage parents/guardians to raise concerns first with their child’s teacher, as per our Public Concerns Policy #85. If concerns are raised about the curriculum itself, those should be directed to the Ministry of Education.”

As for the Toronto Catholic District School Board, it won’t be turning back the clock when it comes to health and sex education.

“It is Fully Alive program we have been teaching for the past three years. Endorsed by ICE (Institute for Catholic Education) and the Bishops of Ontario,” TCDSB Trustee Maria Rizzo explained.

“We will continue to teach the 2015 curriculum with a Catholic lens. Not going back to Leave it to Beaver days.”

The Fully Alive program will be taught at both Catholic elementary and Catholic secondary all across Ontario.

Changes to the sex education curriculum have long been controversial. In 2010 the McGuinty Liberals scrapped a plan to update the 1998 curriculum after religious groups promised to demonstrate outside Queen’s Park. That revised curriculum was then passed in 2014 by the Wynne government, once again to heavy criticism by some parents claiming topics such as masturbation, gender identity and the correct names of body parts were being taught to children at too young an age.

The Ford Conservatives successfully campaigned on pulling back the revised curriculum until more parental consultation could be done and a new curriculum could be created. This drew ire from the NDP and Liberals who claimed these changes would stop teachers from educating children on topics such as consent, same sex families and online safety.

The Ford government issued the interim curriculum on Wednesday, warning teachers who use the scrapped version would face consequences — and invited parents to anonymously report potential breaches to the province. The government also said it’s launching a website where parents can file such complaints, which critics have dubbed a “snitch line.”

With files from The Canadian Press