Wynne praises girls' push for consent in sex-ed curriculum

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has praised the "important work" of two Toronto teens pressing to have issues about consent included in the province's new sex education curriculum.

Ontario premier thanks teens for their 'important work'

A graphic created by Lia and Tessa, two Grade 8 girls in Toronto, to push for new sex ed in Ontario schools.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne praised the "important work" of two Toronto teens who have launched a campaign to have issues surrounding consent included in the province's new sex education curriculum.

Wynne was reacting to an interview with 13-year-old Grade 8 students Lia Valente and Tessa Hill on CBC Radio's Metro Morning Friday.

The girls spoke to host Matt Galloway about their "We Give Consent" campaign and petition, which aims to get consent made part of Ontario's sex education curriculum, which is being revamped.

"Great interview this morning," wrote Wynne in a Twitter message. "Thanks for your important work! Let's talk."

This week the province announced plans to revamp Ontario's sex education curriculum, which currently makes no mention about consent between sex partners.

Valente said the current curriculum leaves kids unprepared.

"Basically what they teach in sex ed is … don't have sex and if you do have sex, wear a condom," she said. "Kids are educated in a way that doesn't teach them realistically. Kids and teens will have sex eventually at some point in their life."

She said that omitting consent issues from the curriculum means kids "don't respect their partner's boundaries and they don't know how to have safe sex."

Curriculum is out of date in age of social media, smartphones

The curriculum has not been updated since 1998, long before the rise of social media and smartphones. The province has said it wants to teach students about healthy relationships "in this technology-driven world." 

A coalition of parents, teachers and health experts said two years ago Ontario's sex ed lessons needed an urgent overhaul to educate today's tech-savvy students. 

Hill and Valente started their campaign after a school project that examined rape culture in the media and the need to talk about — and create — a culture of consent, particularly among young people.

"Students need to learn consent is affirmative and enthusiastic," said Valente. "It's 'yes please' from both people participating. It's about respecting your partner's boundaries."

"Young people will have sex despite teaching abstinence in the classroom," reads the petition the girls have posted at "So the most important thing is to educate us and other young people about consent."

So far the petition has gathered more than 2,280 signatures.