Toronto

GTA school boards still parsing Ontario PC sex ed changes

Toronto-area school officials have spent the last week trying to determine every change to Ontario's sex-ed curriculum, with classes set to resume just days from now.

Minister of Education still not taking questions

Education Minister Lisa Thompson has been unavailable to answer CBC Toronto's questions about changes to the sex-ed curriculum for the past six days. (CBC)

Toronto-area school officials have spent the last week trying to determine every change to Ontario's sex-ed curriculum, with classes set to resume just days from now.

Doug Ford's Progressive Conservative 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 move has sparked outrage, confusion, and court challenges, however Education Minister Lisa Thompson has been unavailable to answer media questions about the sex ed changes for six days.

That's created a situation where school boards will have to explain to staff and parents what's staying the same, and what's different, in the new curriculum — a modified version of the 1998 sex-ed curriculum.

Peter Joshua, the Peel District School Board's director of education, told CBC Radio's Metro Morning that staff have done a "very careful analysis" of the interim curriculum Ford's government unveiled last Wednesday. 

Human growth and development, which includes sexual health, is the one area that is different, Joshua said. 

"We will be outlining for teachers the specific things that can be covered and how," he said. 

The Peel board is preparing resources and lesson plans, and is asking teachers not to teach the human growth and development section until those lesson plans are available, it said a statement Monday.

The interim curriculum can be read online here.

Another union vows to protect teachers

Liz Stuart, president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association, told Metro Morning the changes are small in terms of how much classroom time they'll take, but they're important. 

"It's significant in its information for students," Stuart said. 

Stuart said teachers are waiting to hear from their employers about what the changes will be.

The union said it will support those who are investigated by the Ontario College of Teachers for teaching the 2015 curriculum. 

In Monday's statement from the Peel District School Board, Joshua said staff are reviewing the interim curriculum through a human rights lens.

The board's resources for teachers will "reinforce the board's ongoing commitment to the well-being, safety and success of all students," he said.

With topics related to identity, the Peel school board will encourage teachers to "embed this work in all curricular areas," Joshua said in the statement.

"We must continue to be guided by our moral obligation to ensure all students feel safe and included in our school communities."

Clarifications

  • A previous version of this story said OECTA will support teachers who continue to teach the 2015 curriculum. The union has since clarified it will support teachers who are investigated by the Ontario College of Teachers for teaching the 2015 curriculum.
    Aug 29, 2018 10:35 AM ET

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