Toronto educator to create online video lessons teaching scrapped sex-ed curriculum
Nadine Thornhill has raised over $5,000 to help with production costs
Ontario's modernized sex-ed curriculum may be banned in classrooms in the coming school year, but that won't stop it from spreading on the internet.
Nadine Thornhill, a sexuality educator in Toronto, wants to preserve the content for those who want to teach it.
"I'm going to be teaching so that teachers, or even parents who want to share this information at home, will have an example of how to do that and they'll have access to all of the information," Thornhill told CBC Toronto.
Thornhill runs a YouTube channel featuring short, educational videos focusing on child and adolescent sexuality. She wants to create a series covering the sex-ed component of the 2015 health and physical education curriculum, which the new Tory government announced it will scrap this week.
She started a GoFundMe campaign last month after the election of Premier Doug Ford's government in anticipation that it would revert to the old curriculum. Thornhill says the funding will go towards production costs, teaching materials and paying educators who will help her develop the content.
She's already raised over $5,000 — almost double her goal.
"Comprehensive sex ed gives youth the information they need to lead healthier happier lives, so let's make sure that those who want it can still have it," Thornhill says in a video promoting her campaign.
Each week she will cover a different topic, with videos geared toward children of different ages from Grade 1 to Grade 12. The videos will feature activities, resources and conversation prompts and will be available for free.
'A huge disservice'
Thornhill says repealing the 2015 curriculum does "a huge disservice" to Ontario students.
"They're going to miss out on critical lessons about things like consent, and healthy relationships, and identity, and respect," said Thornhill. "That's going to put them at risk of things like sexually transmitted infections, sexual assault and sexual harassment."
After all, she points out, the 1998 curriculum pre-dates smartphones and didn't cover topics such as sexual consent, cyberbullying, gender identity and sexual identity.
Thornhill says parents have a right to share their personal values with their children, even if they conflict with what is taught in schools, but she argues that personal beliefs should not get in the way of students getting the facts about sexuality.
"What we don't have a right to do is decide that based on our personal values that we are going to marginalize certain people or make them invisible, or that we are going to teach them inaccurate information because it conflicts with our personal values," she said.
CBC Radio's Metro Morning heard two very different reactions on the changes to sex-ed, from an educator and a parent. Listen to the interview here.
'Too much, too soon'
The new sex-ed curriculum has been controversial ever since the former Liberal government introduced it in 2015, particularly among social conservatives and members of various religious communities.
Opponents expressed concerns that the curriculum was not age-appropriate, and that parents should be the ones to teach their kids about things like same-sex relationships or different gender identities.
Many parents kept their students at home in protest when the curriculum rolled out.
Farina Siddiqui, a Peel mother who home-schooled two of her daughters in 2015 when the curriculum was introduced, told CBC Radio's Metro Morning welcomed the decision by the Ford government to scrap the sex-ed curriculum.
She said the 2015 curriculum taught "too much, too soon."
"It should be the responsibility of the parents to teach them about sensitive matters and about intimate relationships," said Siddiqui.
Siddiqui also complained about a lack of consultation with parents while the curriculum was being designed.
"The consultation was done to a select few," she said. "We never saw their responses, we did not know how capable, how knowledgeable or how informed they were as parents."
More consultation needed, province says
Ontario Education Minister Lisa Thompson said the ministry will be moving quickly to consult parents on how to update the curriculum, and details on that process will be coming soon.
But Thornhill worries it will take too long.
"It takes several years to develop a robust, accurate curriculum."
In the meantime, she said, parents and teachers can consult her YouTube channel: the first video is due out in September.