TDSB will continue to talk about gender identity, internet safety
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Thursday, July 19, 2018 1:20PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 19, 2018 1:56PM EDT
The head of Toronto’s English public school board says teachers will continue to talk about issues such as gender identity and safe internet use —things minimized by the Ontario PC’s decision to revert to a 1998 version of the sexual education curriculum.
Toronto District School Board director of education John Malloy told CP24 that schools are bound by numerous other pieces of legislation to be safe for all students, so issues not dealt with by the incoming sexual education curriculum will still be dealt with by teachers and staff.
“Our Education act, which speaks about student wellbeing, our human rights code which speaks about all students being included in school, and our policies around safety are paramount and we’re going to continue to teach those things.”
Earlier this month, Education Minister Lisa Thompson said the 2015 iteration of the sexual education curriculum — created to deal with things like consent, proper identification of body parts, sexual orientation, gender identity, safer sexual practices and safe internet conduct— would be scrapped and replaced with thw 1998 version until more consultations could be completed to develop a new version.
The 1998 version mentions the internet once, calling it the “World Wide Web,” and doesn’t mention sexual orientation or gender identity at all.
“Not once in 45 pages,” Toronto teacher Philip Pace said on Thursday.
After the initial cancellation announcement, Thompson clarified that issues such as consent, cyberbullying and gender identity would be taught this fall.
But that same day, her office issued a statement saying no concrete decision has been made on which concepts will be included.
The lack of direction is causing headaches for schoolboard chiefs like Malloy.
“We don’t know yet about the curriculum direction but we aren’t changing course in terms of how we educate students in inclusive and safe ways,” he said.
He said that regardless of what is contained in the new curriculum; schools have a duty to support students.
“For example, some of our kids who may be questioning their gender orientation, they have a safe space in our schools and they will be able to share their experiences.”
Earlier on Thursday, several hundred parents, children and educators demonstrated at Queen’s Park, demanding the Ford government keep the updated sexual education curriculum intact.
Pace, who attended Thursday’s rally, said the fact that the sex education curriculum may completely omit discussions of same sex relationships is deeply troubling.
“Myself I am in a same-sex, long-term loving relationship and the kids in my class have questions about that, and many of them come from same-sex families or same-sex relationships and they’re kind of ahead of even where the 2015 curriculum is.”
He said the decision is “fear-based” and “not in the best interest of children.”