Doug Ford, leader of the Ontario Conservative party. Photo: CC, HiMY-SYeD.
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Curriculum gives key facts on sexuality, consent, gender identity

Since winning the Ontario PC leadership race, Doug Ford has begun to make some promises. One of the most troubling is his plan to scrap the sexual education curriculum introduced by the Ontario Liberal party in 2015.

This curriculum has received much criticism, mostly from right-wing parents and religious organizations, since its introduction. This criticism, however, is mostly biased and unfounded.

The new sex-ed curriculum was a significant improvement of the former program administered to public school students in Ontario. In fact, it was the first update to sexual education in Ontario in almost two decades, and introduced concepts relating to anatomy and puberty at earlier grade levels than before. It also included updates on topics like sexuality, gender identity, consent, mental health, and online harassment.

This curriculum is not attempting to indoctrinate students into going against their parents’ religious beliefs and becoming queer or sexually active. It’s simply trying to create more educated, progressive students in a country where same-gender marriage has been legal for almost 15 years, and teen pregnancy was on the rise only five years ago.

Simply put, Ford would be doing a disservice to the students of Ontario by changing the curriculum. Students with different sexual identities and gender identities deserve to feel safe and respected in their classrooms, and with Ford giving into the religious right and changing the curriculum he is risking the lives of these children.

Ford has made claims that parents were not properly consulted during the creation of this program; however, according to a Toronto Star article, not only were parents consulted, but so were medical professionals, educators, and even the police especially concerning the ages that different topics were taught.

There are also statistics that show that comprehensive sex-ed works. According to Advocates for Youth, a nonprofit organization and advocacy group based out of Washington, D.C., research on comprehensive sexual education programs demonstrate that these programs decrease sexual activity and increase use of condoms and contraceptives. We know that the more educated students are, the more informed decisions they will make.

This curriculum could also improve the mental health of students with transgender and non-heterosexual identities, who already face higher rates of disorders such as depression and anxiety, and who are 14 times more likely to attempt suicide in comparison to their heterosexual peers, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

By improving the curriculum, all the Liberal party has done is better educate students on topics they may already be curious about, and ensure they are receiving the correct information. Students today have more access to the internet than ever before, and as a result are at risk of learning incorrect information if they are not taught otherwise within their schools.

So instead of scrapping the curriculum, maybe it’s time for Doug Ford to educate himself on queer identities, and the issues facing LGBTQ+ youth. Being against this curriculum, it’s pretty obvious he needs it.