New coalition voices support for Ontario's sex-ed curriculum
Muslim teacher says 'most Muslims are supportive of the curriculum, think sex-ed is important'
Several Muslim women praised Ontario's new sex-ed curriculum at Queen's Park Wednesday.
They join more than 140 groups from across the province who've thrown their support behind the Ontario Coalition Supporting Health Education (OCSHE), a new organization that believes the curriculum is "an opportunity to further knowledge and foster health."
Rabea Murtaza, one of the founders of Muslims for Ontario's Health and Physical Education Curriculum, spoke passionately about her organization's support for the curriculum which has upset many Muslim parents.
"This curriculum is an opportunity for Muslim families to have mutual, two-way dialogue about values, relationships, marriage and sexuality," Murtaza said. "This kind of dialogue is sorely needed in our families."
She told CBC News that "most Muslims are supportive of the curriculum or they think sexual health education is important and I wanted to make sure that voice came forward."
Teacher Ayesha Jabbar attributes the opposition to the curriculum to the fact that "a lot of people haven't taken a really good look at it.
"I want to be out there saying I'm Muslim, I'm a Muslim woman and I support [the curriculum] because I think it's really healthy.
"It doesn't mean I'm gonna have sex tomorrow because I learn about something," Jabbar said. 'It gives me those options so I can make healthy decisions."
Earlier this month, Mississauga-based documentary filmmaker Shazia Javed directed a video titled #WeSayKnow that featured several young Muslim women responding to the anti-sex ed protests.
Toronto's young Muslim women feature in this video on importance of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SexEd?src=hash">#SexEd</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/physed?src=hash">#physed</a> <a href="https://t.co/uuNDcvQKN0">https://t.co/uuNDcvQKN0</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/OutburstM">@OutburstM</a>—@shaziajaved
Opponents of the curriculum say they were not consulted enough before it was set in stone, and argue that it's a parent's right to educate their children about sex. Their concerns about the curriculum range from material that was being taught too early to saying children should not be taught about same-sex relationships and different gender identities.
The Canadian Families Alliance is asking parents across the province to keep their kids home on Oct. 1 to protest what it calls "the radical sex curriculum."
OCSHE executive director Sarah Hobbs-Blyth said the new group doesn't feel that the curriculum is "a danger to the youth of Ontario."
"The curriculum stands on honest, solid ground," she said. "It is founded on research, science, prudent public health principles and an adherence to the Ontario code of human rights."
The curriculum is about making youth safer and helping them navigate "the sexual pressures we all face," she said.
It's giving them "the tools they need to navigate those realities which do not go away when we ignore them."