The thing that perhaps upsets me most about the debate around Ontario’s health and physical education curriculum (you know, the sex ed one) is that there are parents out there who don’t want their children to have as much information as possible.
There are parents who don’t want their children to know the proper names for their anatomy, they won’t be taught about consent and that no means no. They don’t want their children to learn about sexting – something that didn’t exist when the previous curriculum was written, the one they’re going to use instead.
The government says that they want to consult, to build a new curriculum that’s, I guess, less offensive to some. The thing is, the 2015 curriculum was developed through a massive consultation process – parents, educators, healthcare providers. Parents who are opposed to the newer curriculum say they believe that parents should be the ones to teach their kids.
The thing is that I don’t trust other parents to have my kid’s best interests at heart. I don’t trust the parents who taught their daughter that girls can’t marry girls – something that is factually incorrect in this country, where gay marriage has been legal and socially acceptable for over a decade – to impart other factual information like consent, like what might happen if she sends a picture to a boy, like what she should do if someone starts abuses her. I expect them to tell her very little that will protect her when bad people come calling. If they can’t even tell her the truth about same-sex marriage, when there is a good chance she will have friends with two moms or two dads in her life, then they won’t prepare her for much.
I was raised to believe that knowledge is power, and that being smart is one of the best things you can be. I was raised to listen and learned, and ask questions.
I know from some of the learning that I’ve done that teaching kids about consent, about birth control and safe sex, makes them stronger and safer. It does them better than pretending.
Arming them with information. Trusting them. It makes us all better.
I can’t believe that some parents want their children to feel as alone, not normal, unsure as we all felt when we wondered if everyone else felt that way too. Than trying to find answers from all the wrong places, and never knowing what’s true or real.
We owe our kids.
Glen Canning: The 2015 curriculum could have saved Rehtaeh Parsons.
Nadine Thornhill: Let’s save sex ed