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Inclusivity in Sex Education

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In July 2018 the new premier of Ontario Doug Ford repealed the 2015 sexual education curriculum put in place by the previous Liberal party and introduced the 1998 version as the interim curriculum that teachers must abide by. Parents of students in Ontario seem to be still divided over the issue. Concern over the curriculum is that it introduces controversial topics such as gender fluidity and acceptance of same-sex relationships and families. Most complaints come from parents of religious backgrounds claiming it infringes on their right to freedom of religion as many of the topics covered conflict with their beliefs. The concerns of many teachers and students of the repeal are that the interim curriculum violates the rights of students by lacking inclusivity. Teachers have also professed anger at a website created where parents can express their issues with teachers who continue to teach the 2015 curriculum (CBC News, 2018). *The local is global* this effect can be shown as nationally and internationally individuals can see that one of the most progressive nations has repealed curriculum that has aimed to advance the rights of many individuals, especially of LGBT youth. However, the issue has also sparked outrage and movements towards the recognition of these issues.

The views of the teachers and students outraged by the repeal would be in line with much of radical feminists ideals, as in chapter one it states the focus of radical feminism is often on issues regarding the body and sexuality. In particular, the issue of sexual consent and finding personal pleasure would be approved as sexual violence is a prominent issue campaigned for by radical feminists. However, it also conflicts with the views of some radical feminists who adhere to traditionally binary views of gender identity and expression. As a whole, the issue of inclusivity in sex education curricula is a feminist issue as it aims to create equality and address topics beyond the majority, or straight and/or cisgender students. In a lengthy article published by Campaign Life Coalition, one of Canada’s largest pro-life lobbyist groups, they showed immense concern with the curriculum, showing a clear bias against the LGBT population as well as aimed to discredit those of opposing viewpoints, claiming they are a small minority. It claims that the people opposed to the repeal and that have spoken out about the issue “do not at all represent the ordinary voting public” and so therefore individuals should not be swayed by “the media’s political propaganda campaign” (CLC, n. d. ).

The article did address the issue in regards to religion, however only mentioned it terms of the Catholic school system being incapable of teaching the curriculum as it goes against their beliefs. * It claims the curriculum is dangerous for students as it aims to “normalize homosexual ‘marriage’”, does not accurately represent the risks of contracting sexually transmitted infections from anal intercourse, and that the representation of gender as fluid causes gender confusion and could lead students to feel “‘pushed’ by the school system to get sex reassignment surgery” (CLC, n. d. ). Not only are these ideas homophobic and transphobic but they are taken out of context. In one of the excerpts from the curriculum posted in the article itself it states “engaging in activities like oral sex, vaginal intercourse, or anal intercourse means that you can get infected with an STI. If you do not have sex, you do not need to worry about getting an STI” (Campaign Life Coalition, n. d. ). This excerpt clearly states the reality of contracting an STI from sexual activity and is consistently present throughout the curriculum with much emphasis on using protection such as condoms.

Furthermore, it does not coerce or force students into feeling as if they should have sex before they are ready, as the article claims. In the discussion of parts of the grade 8 curriculum in which it addresses creating boundaries on one’s own sexual limits the article claims that this “has an undertone that is too sexually permissive and is giving license to promiscuity”(CLC, n. d. ). It goes as far to say that “It may actually be illegal for adults to instruct underage children to have sex” as well that it poses “a risk this will put pressure on kids to become sexually active”(CLC, n. d. ). Not only is this example attempted to be supported by a “2014 poll of UK teens conducted by the Institute of Public Policy Research”(CLC, n. d. ), which is entirely irrelevant to this specific curriculum as well as the students of Ontario, but the excerpts are exaggerated greatly and not accurately evaluated. By suggesting to students (that at the grade 8 level are likely to be exposed to the possibility of sexual activity in the near future) to start to think about their personal beliefs and boundaries with as much information from a health professional on safety and consent as possible, this is the opposite of trying to force students to engage in sexual activity before they are ready. While this article gives valuable insight into the viewpoints of some individuals it is, in my opinion, incredibly biased and in the minority of individuals with extremely bigoted and aggressive stances against the LGBT community. The only valuable information I find from this article is it’s brief, and still very biased, outlook from a religious perspective.

While I agree it may be difficult to integrate some of these ideas into a traditional catholic school system, students at these schools are no less likely to face the same issues as students in public schools and should still be given the same opportunities for inclusivity as well as be educated in sexual health so they can make well informed choices. A global news poll of 500 Ontario parents found “50 per cent of them said they were OK with the 1998 curriculum being taught with 48 percent believing it does “a good job” of addressing current issues” (Westoll, 2018). The poll also found support for the curriculum between 68 and 84 percent depending on the grade and its contents (Westoll, 2018). In Ontario, there was widespread support for the inclusive 2015 curriculum with a high school student-led walkout named March for our Education on September 21st with a projected attendance 40,000 students and faculty from more than 100 schools across the province (CTV News, 2018).

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