Ottawa

Public school board demands clarity on sex-ed curriculum

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board has penned an open letter to the Ontario government calling for clarity on what's expected this fall when it comes to teaching sexual education.

OCDSB says there are no materials left from the 1998 curriculum

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board says it has received no formal direction from the provincial government in regards to the sex-ed curriculum. (Danny Globerman/CBC)

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board has penned an open letter to the Ontario government calling for clarity on what's expected this fall when it comes to teaching sexual education.

In the letter — addressed to Lisa Thompson, the provincial education minister — the school board says it's given the new Progressive Conservative government a chance to explain the expectations and insists "the time for clarity is now."

"Our teachers need time to plan with the curriculum for the school year. Our parents need to understand how this will be managed at school, so that they can make decisions about how they can best support their child's learning on these topics at home," the letter reads.

Earlier this month, the government announced it would be reverting to the old sex-ed curriculum that was introduced in 1998, before being replaced in 2015.

Less than one week later, Thompson said that not all aspects of the 2015 curriculum would be rolled back.

Shirley Seward, chair of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, said she thinks time is limited to change the sex-ed curriculum. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

'No formal direction at all'

Since that announcement, the OCDSB has received no indication on what the government's precise expectations are in the coming year, said Shirley Seward, chair of the board of trustees.

"None whatsoever. There has been no formal direction at all from either the ministry or the premier's office," she said.

Seward said the letter would hopefully signal to the government that the board believes it's better to stay with the 2015 curriculum.

"The social environment in which Canada found itself in 1998 ... is very different from what we have today," Seward said.

Seward also said the board has no materials available from the old curriculum for teachers to use, and many of those teachers have only taught the new curriculum.

"It would be very, very difficult to go back to the 1998 curriculum just for practical reasons — never mind that it makes no sense from a societal point of view."

Limited time

Without any formal direction from the government, Seward said the school board may have to simply teach according to the 2015 curriculum.

"If there's no direction, and there's no curriculum, and no policy explicitly spelled out in terms of what we should be doing, I think we just have to continue to do the same thing."

In order to prepare for the upcoming year, the school board would need some sort of direction in roughly one week's time, Seward said.

The government has promised the largest consultations ever on the sex-ed curriculum, pledging to visit all 124 electoral ridings across Ontario to compile parental feedback.

The OCDSB says that consultation needs to start now. 

"We urge you to initiate that consultation immediately so that Ontarians can be heard and multiple curriculum changes can be avoided," the letter reads.

With files from the Canadian Press