Sex education debate flares up

John Kennedy: Against

Changes ignore the will of parents

While I’ll let the progressives and the religious duke it out in the war for moral decency and the right to indoctrinate the youth, instead I will to appeal to common sense and logic. Recently debate has exploded about the newly proposed, and highly controversial, sexual education curriculum put forth by the McGuinty government.

This curriculum would have children learning about homosexuality and gender identity as early as grade three and the oh-so-important intricacies of vaginal lubrication and anal intercourse in grade seven.

This new proposal is ridiculous and it raises the question of ‘when is enough, enough?’, when it comes to what we are willing to subject our youth to.

The first question one must ask when educating themselves on this proposed change is what are the immediate benefits of such a controversial change?

The simple answer is that there are none. Parents province-wide have expressed a similar sentiment that the changes are drastically unnecessary at best and downright indecent at worst.

The provincial government is forcing parents to accept what the government believes are appropriate values to teach in school, and that will never stand with parents of any kind.

The disapproval of parents, regardless of whether or not they have a religious background, only scratches the surface of what is wrong with this proposition.

What really irritates me about this new proposal though is this ardent commitment to promote “healthy relationships” and “invisible differences” in grade three.

While the infuriation of many comes from the implementation of the previously mentioned explicit content to grade sevens, it is these fabricated attempts at explaining significant culture and identity predispositions that could be inherently dangerous to youth development. Anyone who tries to argue that an eight-year-old can fully comprehend the complexity of something like sexual identity is delusional.

And what about the teachers in all of this controversy? Did anyone stop to think about whether or not they would be comfortable teaching this kind of material in their classrooms? It is extremely unfair for the provincial government to put teachers in this position that could ultimately end up
in them choosing between their jobs and their values.

What is also extremely vexatious is the attempt at justifying this curriculum by saying that “the younger they are exposed to this material, the less likely they are to conduct such activity.” This is a main pillar in the pro-side to this debate that has absolutely zero credibility and is nothing more than undignified speculation.

The attempted quantification of youth curiosity is flabbergasting and unnerving. That’s like saying a thief could teach kids the most efficient ways to steal but the larceny rate would decrease. It makes no sense.

What may be the worst part of all this is the provincial government’s absolute failure in properly communicating this proposal.

The fact that it was rescinded within 54 hours should tell you one thing, but the passing of the buck by the premier from a stance of ardently defending the proposal to then saying he was “kept in the dark” by the Education Ministry when public opinion was calling for his head shows just how much faith McGuinty has in this plan.

The fact that McGuinty’s Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne blatantly called the Progressive Conservative opposition “homophobes” for not supporting this particular agenda, although they were expressing many of the same arguments of concerned citizens, truly shows that this agenda is not in sync with the perspectives of parents in Ontario.

It is refreshing to see public opinion finally saying enough is enough.

Shagun Randhawa: In Favour

Early learning of sex-ed critical for healthy living

When I was young, I watched a television show demonstrate babies being brought to a family by a beautiful stork.

When I was in grade four, my friend told me that babies came from an act that involved the boy’s “pee-pee” going into the girl’s “pee-pee.”

My parents were immigrants and were not about to give me any type of sex talk that didn’t involve the simple lesson of “don’t do it,” and thus I was deeply confused about sex and its consequences.

The reality is that kids learn from their friends, and often parents may not be the best, or willing, information source on the controversial topic of sex and healthy living.

The schoolyard is often the primary teaching ground on this subject and adults can’t control what information is exchanged here. With the Internet it is even more difficult to monitor what children are learning.

This makes it especially important for the school system to convey accurate information.

With the new and innovative Health and Physical Education (HPE) curriculum that was to be launched by the Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty in the 2010-11 school year, children would have been taught about active living, healthy eating, life skills and yes, sexual education.

What should have been a revolutionary strategy in the Ontario curriculum is now lost by McGuinty’s backpedalling, which was forced by pressure brought on by religious and political groups.

“It becomes pretty obvious to us that we should give this a serious rethink,” McGuinty told CBC News after they pulled the new curriculum. Years in the making, the HPE curriculum would have had much more relevance to the 21st century and set a benchmark for what sexual education should involve.

Unfortunately, lobbyists played on the emotions of parents, appealing to their overprotective natures and alarming them by painting a picture of a child’s innocence corrupted by the knowledge of what a penis and vagina is, or properly explaining details surrounding issues that impact the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community.

Charles McVety, head of the Canada Christian College was quoted in CBC News as saying that, “It is unconscionable to teach eight-year-old children same-sex marriage, sexual orientation and gender identity.”

In a country where same sex marriage is legal, it is important to inform children that this is a normal way of life that we should be accepting of.

It may not be too late to ensure that the government’s crucial approach to health and physical education is not drowned out by loud voices that have so little confidence in the ability of our children to learn, understand and register information that they will be bombarded with regardless.

At least if it is taught in school accuracy and sensitivity will be ensured.

The idea of basing our education system on wishful tradition as opposed to reality allows ideology and religious fervour to trump knowledge and realism.

In the end, the children of Ontario are truly losing out.