Sex-ed curriculum is so pre-1998

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It never ceases to amaze me when parents, grandparents and other adults taking LGBTQ Positive Space training announce their fears at the thought of their male offspring wearing pink because it might “turn them gay.” Social workers, teachers, public health nurses, police officers — you may be surprised to learn this thinking is not limited to a few uneducated folks in some backwater town in the southern United States or a village somewhere on the continent of Africa.
Although there is some concern expressed about girls who play hockey and cut their hair short and the impact of those choices on their sexual orientation, it does not get presented with the same level of upset or with a long list of ideas to counteract the possible outcome.
With boys, however, there is often a laundry list on just how to keep your son from making this “lifestyle choice.” Included among the ideas to promote straightness are making him wear blue, keeping his hair short, making sure he plays hockey, having him hang out in the garage with men, trucks and tools, and (my personal favourite), not letting him listen to the Jonas Brothers, a former Disney boy band that apparently had the power to make guys gay through their music despite the fact that none of them identifies as gay.
These conversations come to mind as Ontario gets set to launch an updated sexual education and health curriculum made for the 21{+s}t century. The current one, created in 1998, neglects to cover important current topics such as sexting, cyberbullying, same-sex relationships and mental health issues. While sexting and cyberbullying didn’t exist back then, same-sex relationships and mental health issues did, which gives us a heads up on just how behind the times we are with this.
In order to try to assuage the fears of many misguided parents who managed to shut down the introduction of this same curriculum back in 2010, a provincewide survey intended to reach one in four parents is currently being conducted.
“Who are trusted sources for sexual health information,” is one of many questions parents are being asked. Possible answers offered include doctors, nurses, public health, parents, media or teachers. I think the answer is all of the above to some extent but the public education system must be equipped with teachers who are trained to teach this curriculum well.
I would certainly not leave it up to many of the parents I’ve met with the aforementioned opinions. And I would definitely not leave it up to a recent two-time letter writer to The Hamilton Spectator. .
In her first letter on the topic, the letter writer noted, “The proposed graphic curriculum is not age-appropriate, nor is it appropriate in any way. It is morally reprehensible, including as it does topics such as masturbation, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and anal and oral sex.” The writer goes on to say, “Parents, for the most part, know how much information their children can handle, and when and how to discuss it, in the privacy of their own home.”
I think “for the most part” is a crucial phrase. Many parents have asked me, a nonparent, when they should introduce the topic of same-sex relationships to their kids. Clearly, they need help and this curriculum could provide an answer if sex-positive teachers get proper training to deliver it. Don’t get me started on how worried I am about who may teach this in the Catholic system!
In a second letter, the writer says the Liberal government’s intention with the sexual health curriculum is to “brainwash children into believing that same-sex couples and gender fluidity are the norm.” The writer is concerned that Grade 3 students will be introduced to the concept that not all families have a mom and a dad; some families have two moms and some have two dads. Danger, danger!!
And while teenage pregnancy rates are down, sexually transmitted diseases are up. They know how not to get pregnant but they’re clearly engaged in sex so why aren’t we having well-informed conversations about it? Seems queer to me.

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