Toronto

Battle begins over repeal of modernized sex-ed curriculum in Ontario

An Ontario court will begin hearing a challenge to the provincial government's repeal of the modernized 2015 sex-ed curriculum on Wednesday.

Teachers' union, CCLA to argue repeal puts students at risk

Thousands of students across Ontario took part in a walk-out last year in protest of the government's move to repeal the 2015 curriculum. (Colin Butler/ CBC News)

An Ontario court began hearing a challenge to the provincial government's repeal of the modernized 2015 sex-ed curriculum on Wednesday. 

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association are arguing the Progressive Conservative government's reversion to an older curriculum is unconstitutional because it puts students at risk. 

Speaking to reporters outside a downtown Toronto courthouse, ETFO President Sam Hammond said the curriculum instated by the PCs is "grossly inadequate in meeting the needs of todays students and it exposes students to increased risk of harm."

"When governments act contrary to the needs and rights of its citizens, court cases like ours are absolutely necessary," Hammond added. 

The ETFO wants the court to order the province to reinstate the 2015 curriculum, while the province wants the case dismissed.

According to a 216-page factum filed this week, the provincial government plans to argue that its changes to sexual education relate to "educational policy and democratic decision-making, not constitutional law." 

"The Constitution of Canada does not entrench any particular elementary school curriculum," says the government in its written arguments.

"It does not prescribe the sexual health topics that must be taught, the level of detail with which they must be articulated, or the particular grades in which they must be introduced."

Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, accused the government of ignoring expert input from education professionals. (CBC)

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