I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, and LGBT advocacy.
Patrick Brown, Kids Need to Know About the Real World
Much as Ontario residents are largely displeased with Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne and her various plans to try and get rid of the Ontario deficit (selling Hydro One? Really?), she seems to have finally gotten many of her constituents on board with the once-contentious sex ed curriculum. In a nutshell, the sex ed curriculum as proposed would see kids learning about different relationships (such as same sex relationships) at age appropriate stages and about things like the proper names for body parts, masturbation, and about safe sex.
The summer of 2015 saw several parents across Ontario protesting the changes to a curriculum which, in reality, hadn't changed for several years and needed a change. The bottom line is, kids are living very different lives now than they did in the 80s and 90s; many come from homes where there are two moms or two dads, and they have a very different understanding of themselves than many did two and three decades ago. The mystery that is the human body should not be a mystery, and kids need a clear understanding of the processes their bodies are going through and the relationships that are going on around them.
By scrapping the newly revamped curriculum, Patrick Brown could set the Ontario curriculum back a fair piece, and doing a great disservice to students. Why remove the curriculum topics that reflect the world the students are living in? Some are making the argument that the curriculum doesn't let kids be kids; a good lot of being a kid, actually, happens both in and out of the classroom, and students who are taught about issues that they are dealing with as far as their physical, mental and sexual health are concerned, particularly as they enter the extremely dodgy teenage years, will be far better equipped than if they weren't.
A few months back, I had a student ask me to review a letter that she was sending to the Ontario Education minister. In short, the student was quite concerned because she felt that there was a lot that the curriculum didn't cover as far as safe sex was concerned - particularly for homosexual and lesbian couples. This student had done her research, and I was proud of her for it, but it was a bold statement about the need that still exists in the Ontario sex ed curriculum for students to learn what they're living, to an extent, and no one audience should be ignored in favor of another.
It would also be ignorant to scrap the curriculum altogether, as Patrick Brown would wish. The changes he's proposing are actually an about face for him, as he has previously stated that he has no issue with the new sex ed curriculum, but he's trying to embrace voters and to do that, he may be looking at taking a harder stance - a change from the perception many have of him as a modern sort of conservative, according to The Globe and Mail.
But Brown has to be careful not to alienate voters who are happy with the sex ed curriculum, those who want to ensure that what they are telling their children at home is supported in the classroom. While some parents may not go into discussion about masturbation and how it's normal, it's still okay that this message is reinforced; kids always have questions that roll through their minds before they think about even asking them, and knowing that they have yet another safe zone to ask these questions is incredibly important.
Many do not love Kathleen Wynne, or even like her a little, but the changes to the sex ed curriculum that have occurred under her government were very necessary, and Patrick Brown will be doing a disservice to Ontarians should he decide to go ahead and scrap those changes.
Modern Curriculum or Not?
Brown or Wynne?
Brown Wants to Prove Something
Brown wants to achieve what he couldn't on the federal level - leadership. He led the riding and was active in putting Simcoe County under the microscope, largely for the charitable causes he was involved in. Now, he's got a shot at leading Ontario, in part because Kathleen Wynne has disenchanted a good many voters.
Scrapping needed changes to the sex ed curriculum is not the way to entice voters, though. The sex ed curriculum was in dire need of change, so to backtrack with the argument of "let kids be kids" is nothing short of idiotic, to put it simply. Kids today are aware of far more than we give them credit for, whether it's how to be safe online (something discussed in the new sex ed curriculum) or how to change a latex surgical glove into a dental dam for safe oral sex. What kids don't know, they Google, but isn't it better and safer if kids know they can actually have an open conversation about sex, thanks to the changes in the curriculum? They can't always have those conversations at home, so why not have the conversation at school, where they can learn about safety, among other things, from their teacher or another approved resource?
Brown wants to prove that he's sufficiently different from Wynne, which is great, but don't drag progress back - because that's not progress.