As It Happens

Some Ontario parents pull kids from class over sex ed

Thousands of children in Ontario are ‘on strike’ from school this week, and so are their parents. The target of their protest is the province’s new sex education curriculum.
Claudia Rulli, of Aurora, Ontario kept her 5-year-old daughter home from school because she opposes the province's new sex education curriculum. (Claudia Rulli )

Thousands of children in Ontario  are 'on strike' from school this week, and so are their parents.  The target of their protest is the province's new sex education curriculum.

Claudia Rulli of Aurora, Ontario says she is keeping her 5-year-old daughter home from school to make a point.  "The reason why the parents are reacting like this is that the consultation process that the Premier (Kathleen Wynne) did was a farce, because 4,000 parents that were hand-picked does not represent all parents, " she tells As it Happens host Carol Off.

The parents consulted by the province were the heads of parent councils at schools. The province also consulted health and education experts. This is the first time the curriculum has been updated in 17 years.

Rulli who is part of the Facebook campaign "Parents & Students on Strike" -- says it should have been a broader consultation process.

Hundreds of parents protested changes to Ontario's sex ed curriculum outside Thorncliffe Park Public School on Monday. (CBC)

"What would have been proper is to put the curriculum online and have questions that are clear and direct," she says, adding that parents should have been asked specifically about the updated material that refers to oral and anal sex as well as to gender identity.

The mother of two says she is fine with her daughter being taught body parts in grade one, although some parents have objected to that part of the new curriculum.

Rulli says she is more concerned about the issue of gender identity being raised in grade three.

"That's a topic that should be discussed in high school," she tells Off.

She suggests that some teachers have been "bold and brazen" by taking about same-sex families in other courses.

"What I'm saying is they don't need to talk about that kind of relationship in math...When we talk about it on a daily basis I don't think that's fair either because it goes against other cultures", she says, "They're trying to make same-sex relationship accepting."  Same sex marriage is legal in Canada.

Rulli says many parents are angry because the curriculum fails to specifically suggest that students who have questions about sex talk to their parents. Instead, it says they should speak to an adult or trusted peer.

Topics such as anal and oral sex need to wait until kids are in high school, she adds, not seventh grade, she says, adding that the the risks of anal sex need to be made clear.

"Not just you know putting on a condom to prevent STDs...there are certain things with the consequences with anal sex, that I don't know if I can say on the program...They have a high rate of HIV...but also the risk of being able to hold certain things it becomes harder." She clarifies that she's referring to "fecal matter."

Rulli says if there was  "proper consultation" with all parents, and the majority supported the curriculum as it, is, she'd accept it as well. "Would I be happy? No. But I could accept it more," she says.

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