I’m warning you now – this post is going to be a rant. It’s full of my opinions, and you are welcome to agree or disagree — but please do so respectfully. Leave a comment, send me a message, sign up for my feed, share with others … whatever you do, I ask you to read what I’ve said, think about it, and make your own decision.
For those of you living in Ontario, you will understand what I’m talking about; those of you living outside of Ontario, the essential knowledge is this:
- Ontario is currently in the midst of a Provincial election campaign – voting day is this Thursday, Oct 6.
- While there are multiple parties running in the election, the two leaders are the Liberals, led by Dalton McGuinty (currently in power) and the Conservatives, led by Tim Hudak. At this point it’s looking like a tight race.
- This past weekend, Conservative supporters in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) handed out flyers about which I am writing this post; you can view the flyer at the end of this article, along with the Toronto District School Board document and the proposed 2010 Health and Physical Education Curriculum.
Back to my rant …
Recently, a document was released which has been written for the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), entitled “Challenging Homophobia and Heterosexism: A K-12 Curriculum Resource Guide.” As the name suggests, this resource guide (NOT curriculum — a distinction the Conservatives apparently failed to notice) was written to support TDSB teachers and educators in battling homophobia and heterosexism. In the wake of all the recent LGBT teen suicides, you’d think that supporting the school board in challenging homophobia would be a good thing. Apparently not, to the Conservatives at least.
In response to this guide, the Conservatives have released an inaccurate, over-dramatized and anti-gay flyer, which they distributed, in English and Punjabi, throughout the GTA. The flyer claims the quote “cross dressing for six-year olds” is in the anti-homophobia document – which it isn’t. The flyer also claims that these quotes are pulled from the proposed 2010 Health and Physical Education Curriculum — which they aren’t.
The central message on the flyer is “Don’t want this for your kids? Parents don’t have a say” – reflecting the suggestion of newsletters over permission slips. The resource guide suggests that, rather than sending home permission slips, teachers and educators send home newsletters outlining the topics to be discussed in the upcoming months.
“sending a school newsletter home at the beginning of each term is a best practice for keeping parents/guardians/caregivers informed of all upcoming equity topics in the classroom without having to single out one topic over the other.”
(Challenging Homophobia, 2011)
As a sexuality educator, I agree with this move, because it allows for a natural and comfortable discussion with students – without the potential drama, overreaction and removal of students from the classroom – that can happen with permission slips. Y’know … “Oh my goodness, they’re talking about sex next week — no way is my child going to learn about that!!!”
In other (slightly less dramatic) words — sexuality is natural and part of every single human, whether they are six or 60 — and curiosity about sexuality is just as natural. Let the kids get the facts about sexuality — including the fact that homosexuality and sexual diversity is natural – from someone!
Here’s an idea … Let’s try to raise kids who don’t bully LGBT youth to the point of suicide … kids who don’t hate themselves for being LGBT … kids who are allowed to be themselves, even in school. Let’s offer a safe space where kids have someone to talk to, whether they are gay, lesbian, trans, queer, questioning, straight, 2 spirited … let’s provide education and support to the educators and staff in schools, so they have enough knowledge and comfort to offer that safe space.
Wow, what a concept!
Naturally, Hudak didn’t respond to questions or criticism about the flyer … instead, he referred to the controversial 2010 Health and Physical Education curriculum, which, unfortunately, didn’t make the cut after Conservative attacks and misinformed parental outcry. I remember it well – and I’m providing a link to the curriculum for your reading (see below). In the event that you don’t want to read the whole thing, I have spent some time copying and pasting the “Human Development and Sexual Health” excerpts on this page. And because Hudak refers to the “McGuinty agenda” of teaching sex ed to grade 1 students, I’ve included that below:
C1 – Understanding Health Concepts
C1.3: Identify body parts, including genitalia (e.g. penis, testicles, vagina, vulva), using correct terminology
Teacher prompt: “We have talked about the body parts that everyone has. What body parts do only boys have and what body parts do only girls have?”
Student: “Boys have a penis. Girls have a vagina.”
Teacher: “We talk about these body parts, like all body parts, with respect.”
C 2 – Making Healthy Choices
C2.5: demonstrate an understanding of and apply proper hygienic procedures for protecting their own health and preventing the transmission of disease to others (e.g., washing hands with soap, using a tissue, sleeve sneezing, brushing and flossing teeth, not sharing hats or hairbrushes)
Teacher prompt: “Why is it important to wash your hands before you eat and after you use the washroom?”
Student: “Washing your hands helps to stop germs from spreading. We should wash with warm water and soap for as long as it takes to say the alphabet.”
Imagine that … teaching first graders the proper names for their body parts, along with proper hygiene. What horrors do the Liberals have lined up next? Acknowledging that almost all people – including LGBTQ people - have sex? Talking about safer sex and preventing the spread of disease? Yikes!
So, Ontario, are you voting for homophobia? Are you voting for the anti-gay agenda of Tim Hudak and the Conservatives?
Referenced in this post: