Toronto

GTA teacher refuses to teach new sex-ed curriculum despite Doug Ford's new tip line

An Ontario teacher says he will continue to teach the 2015 sex-ed curriculum, despite fear of reprisals and a new provincial government snitch line, which one parent claimed to have already reported him to.

CBC News is protecting the identity of the teacher due to concerns about losing his job

An Ontario teacher says he will continue to teach the 2015 sex-ed curriculum, because the PC-revised curriculum is "detrimental" to students. (Radio-Canada)

An Ontario teacher says he will continue to teach the 2015 sex-ed curriculum, despite fear of reprisals and a new provincial government snitch line, which one parent claimed to have already reported him to.

In a post on Facebook, a Durham region elementary school teacher said he "could not follow the old curriculum" Doug Ford's Progressive Conservative government is bringing back because it "is detrimental to student health and safety."

Someone replied to the post that they had reported him to a so-called snitch line the Ford government introduced for parents to complain about teachers who don't teach the revised curriculum.

CBC News is protecting the identity of the teacher due to concerns about losing his job.

"My first reaction was, I laughed. I thought it was asinine. And I didn't understand, how can I be reported for something when the school hasn't even started," he said in an exclusive interview with CBC Toronto.

"And then recognizing the political climate as it is today, I became very concerned."

'No form of defence and no warning'

Ford's PC government released an interim health and physical education curriculum for elementary schools last week, scrapping the modernized sex-ed curriculum brought in by the Liberals in 2015 that included information about online bullying, sexting and gender identity.

The government also announced the creation of a tip line for parents who are concerned about what their children are being taught in class.

The teacher CBC Toronto spoke to said the tip line does nothing more than give parents with certain biases power over teachers.

He said it disregards the usual procedures to try to resolve issues and "automatically puts the onus right on the teacher and gives them no form of defence and no warning."

"It's scary...To me it feels like they are trying to say, 'keep your mouth shut, do exactly what we tell you or we will make an example of you,'" he said.

School boards across the province have expressed concern with the tip line and the PCs revised curriculum.

However, a letter that will be sent out to all Durham teachers on Thursday was leaked to CBC Toronto. It says because of a "legal obligation to follow the ministry" the Durham District School Board is advising teachers to teach the government's revisions and not place their "careers in jeopardy."

A portion of the letter that was leaked to CBC Toronto. (Durham District School Board)

'A very difficult bind'

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario says potential consequences for not following the curriculum are suspensions or termination. 

But, the Durham Local president David Mastin said they will fight with their teachers against any repercussions.

Mastin said he wants teachers to use their professional judgment when it comes to the teaching of the health and physical education curriculum. 

"If there are issues that they feel that need to be dealt with [in the classroom] that are in the 2015 document they should use their professional judgment and teach what they know from a health perspective that the students they are working with need," he said, adding the 2015 curriculum is "fabulous" because it deals with issues that were not present in 1998.

David Mastin, president of the Durham Local ETFO, says he wants teachers to use their professional judgment when it comes to teaching health and physical education. (CBC News/ Martin Trainor)

Mastin said heading into the school year, teachers and the union are in a difficult position. 

"We are dealing with professionals who on one hand see a need with their students in their classroom...and they are hearing a political entity on the other hand that's telling them 'you do this or else,'" he said.

 "It puts our members in a very difficult bind."

'Greatest teachers in the world'

In a statement last week Doug Ford's government threatened action against any teacher who taught the curriculum brought in during the previous Liberal government. 

On Wednesday, Ford said at a press conference "we have some of the greatest teachers in the world right here in Ontario," and promised ongoing consultations about the curriculum that would include both teachers and parents.

"It's going to be the largest consultation this province has ever seen," he said.

Despite the threats, the Durham region teacher said using his professional judgment, the PC-revised curriculum is "extremely detrimental to students today," and he will teach whatever he thinks is most appropriate, even if it's against the government.

With files from Chris Glover

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