Changing sex ed curriculum called 'a disservice to students'

There's strong reaction in London to a decision by the provincial government to revert back to the 1998 sex education curriculum starting this fall. The decision was announced Wednesday by education minister, Lisa Thompson.

Ford government's decision to revert to 20 year old sex ed curriculum faces criticism in London.

Thames Valley District School Board chair, Matt Reid said the government is not equipping children with the information around technology and consent that they need, especially those in the LGBT community. (Dave Chidley/CBC)

There's strong reaction in London to a decision by the provincial government to revert back to the 1998 sex education curriculum starting this fall. The decision was announced Wednesday by education minister, Lisa Thompson. 

"I think it's shocking," said NPD MPP Peggy Sattler. "It's moving the province backwards."

Sattler is a former school board trustee with the Thames Valley District School Board. She was also the NDP critic for Women's Issues, Education and Advanced Education and skills development in the past legislature.

Sattler is concerned the 20 year old sex education curriculum that the government is now telling school boards to use this fall is outdated. She points out that curriculum was written long before today's realities where "...young people have cell phones attached to their bodies."

"We know that kids are learning more about sex from pornography that they're likely accessing on their cell phones than from their parents," she said. "Young people need accurate information in order to make good decisions about their bodies and lives."

A disservice to students

Thames Valley District School Board chair, Matt Reid is equally disappointed. He said the government is not equipping children with the information around technology and consent that they need, especially those in the LGBT community. 

"We've heard time and again, especially from the LGBT community that the old curriculum that was made in 1998 was not meeting their needs." 

Reid said he heard from many parents who supported the revised curriculum that was introduced in 2015. He would have preferred it if the government had changed the new curriculum rather than reverting to a 20 year old program and starting the whole process again from scratch. 

"They (provincial politicians) have indicated that they will move quickly on consultation but as we know in education you don't just want to roll out a quick curriculum ... so consultation will take time. It must be meaningful if it's to meet the needs of our students going forward," he said. 

No complaints from students

Grade 11 student, Razaan Eltom, said she likes the curriculum, which is part of her physical education program. 

"It's good to let kids our age be aware of what's going on and to make sure girls aren't getting pregnant at the age of 16," she said. 

Sonya Woods is also in grade 11. She appreciated the content on consent. "I remember different ways to be safe, like 'no means no'."

Those are some of the messages Peggy Sattler is worried will be lost when the old curriculum is resurrected. 

"Information is the most powerful tool you can give people to make wise decisions and be safe," she said. "Everyone in this province has a right to feel respected, to feel good about themselves, to feel free to be who they are."