Saturday, June 6, 2015

Kathleen Wynne should reopen consultations on sex-ed curriculum

Ontario’s sexual education reform has brought to the surface serious tensions between the province’s diverse communities. Rather than dismissing these differences as personal choices, Premier Kathleen Wynne should take the hard road and facilitate an honest dialogue on inclusion that Ontarians badly need.

The premier’s current response avoids dealing with the fundamental issue. The planned sex education reform is not simply about updating the health information given to students in today’s cyberbullying and sexting age, as the government claims. The reality is that — like all education — sexual education establishes social norms and the current reform seeks to change what norms will be taught.

Education has always been a place of struggle where the shared values that underpin our society are negotiated. This is especially true of sex education, which communicates beliefs about the most intimate relationships an individual can have — the relationship with oneself, one’s parents and family, and sexual partners. It is impossible to separate this very personal education from students’ and parents’ personal beliefs or to expect common ground to exist from the outset across the spectrum of religious, cultural, and sexual diversity that makes up this province.

Rather, common ground has to be created, and this is where the premier is failing.  (more...)

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