Ottawa

Ottawans rally against 'horrendous' Ontario sex ed changes

More than 100 people attended a rally at the Human Rights Monument in downtown Ottawa on Sunday to protest the Ontario government's plan to scrap the sexual education curriculum put in place by the previous Liberal government.

Ontario schools switching back to curriculum in place before 2015

More than 100 people carried signs at a rally in downtown Ottawa Sunday protesting the changes to Ontario's sexual education curriculum. (Reno Patry/Radio-Canada)

More than 100 people attended a rally at the Human Rights Monument in downtown Ottawa on Sunday to protest the Ontario government's plan to scrap the sexual education curriculum put in place by the previous Liberal government. 

Lisa Thompson, Ontario's new education minister, said last week ministry staff are telling school boards to revert to the curriculum that was in place between 1998 and 2015.

Recently elected Premier Doug Ford promised to repeal and replace the curriculum when he ran for the Progressive Conservative leadership, saying those topics should be taught by parents.

Amanda Jetté Knox, a mother of four, was at the rally and says the government's move isn't good for young people.

She has a child who identified as transgender at 11 years old. 

"Children are going to suffer the consequences of a sex-ed curriculum that is not comprehensive and does not meet current societal needs," said Knox. 

Those attending a rally in downtown Ottawa Sunday vowed to 'make as much noise as they can' to protest changes. 0:44

Knox said her child's classmates were not informed on transgender issues.

"They didn't know what that meant. She was in Grade 6 and they just made fun of her or ignored her or called her slurs online and basically bullied her out of school," she said.  

"I think it's really important that kids get this information early. Sometimes this applies to them and sometimes it applies to one of their classmates." 

Amanda Jetté Knox is the mother of a child who is transgender and she spoke at the rally about how curriculum changes could affect young people. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

She said the most recent sexual education curriculum addresses subjects such as gender identity, sexual orientation, consent, sexting, LGBTQ issues and other topics relevant to today. 

"By denying them that education we're not making them less confused as people might think … we're just making lives harder for a whole group of people," said Knox.  

Fae Johnstone helped organize the events and does workshops in schools on LGBTQ identities, gender and sexuality and sexual health. 

"The Ford government revoking the much needed update to our sex-ed curriculum, the first update in 20 years, an update that talks about LGBTQ identities, consent, these core elements of health and well-being, is horrendous," said Johnstone.

Fae Johnstone worked to organize a rally to protest changes to the province's sex-ed curriculum. Johnstone says the most recent curriculum addresses current topics that kids are dealing with. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

Ceara McIntyre with Planned Parenthood Ottawa said she was there to explain to people what is and isn't in the curriculum that's being repealed.

She has read the curriculum multiple times and worked in schools where it was taught. 

"I think there's a lot of myths about what's covered and when it's covered and how it's covered," said McIntyre. 

"I've heard before that like people are teaching kids how to have oral sex or anal sex, which isn't true."

About the Author

Krystalle Ramlakhan is a multi-platform journalist with CBC Ottawa. She has also worked for CBC in P.E.I., Winnipeg and Iqaluit.

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