As It Happens

Toronto school forced to cut teachers amid sex-ed curriculum boycott

Two teachers have lost their jobs at Thorncliffe Park Public School in Toronto. The school has had to let go two Grade 1 teachers after since sex-ed protests shrunk the school population by 100 students.
Children and parents protest the province's new sex-ed curriculum outside Thorncliffe Park Public school in early October. Principal Jeff Crane, right, says that two teachers have been let go from the school because of reduced class numbers. (CBC News)
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Two teachers have lost their jobs at Thorncliffe Park Public School in Toronto. The school has had to let the two Grade 1 teachers go after since sex-ed protests shrunk the school population by 100 students. 

"It's a disappointment that parents would feel like they no longer trusted their public schools and felt like they needed to go this route," Principal Jeff Crane tells As it Happens host Carol Off.

Thorncliffe Park Public School is one of the largest elementary schools in Canada. It became a flash point for protests soon after the curriculum was introduced last spring.

This graffiti, which says "Shame On You" appeared on a wall at Thorncliffe Park Public School on Oct. 7, 2015. Parents, opposed to Ontario's new sex education curriculum, held a protest there a day earlier. (CBC News)

In September, parents pulled approximately 700 students from classes. Now, about 100 students are still staying away from the school. Crane says that the majority are teaching their children at home or sending them to private Islamic schools.

"The Muslim cultures and beliefs are very strong," says Crane. "When [parents] come and hear that we're teaching about sex in school, which may not have happened where they came from, they get very concerned."

Crane thinks there are a lot of myths being spread about the new curriculum. He gives the example of the Grade 1 lesson plan, which covers proper names for body parts, including genitalia.

"Some protesters were saying that in order to learn the names, kids were going to pull their pants down and touch each other's private parts -- which is absolutely ridiculous."

Crane has been holding information sessions at the school in an effort to combat misinformation.  

"It's just to assure them that this is what the curriculum really is," he says. "So far, it has been quite useful. Parents are very respectful and interested in what I have to say."

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