It’s been 18 months since the Ontario Liberals introduced changes to the sexual education curriculum, but the uproar over the highly controversial reform hasn’t died down yet.
The curriculum, which was updated for the first time since 1998 to inform Ontario school children of safe and diverse sexual practices, has been opposed by Conservative Party leader Patrick Brown. He has come under fire in recent weeks for his indecisive approach to whether or not he wants to repeal Premier Kathleen Wynne’s curriculum.
Last week, emails were released that Brown sent to supporters in 2015 promising he would repeal the curriculum, but Brown said in a statement his views have now “evolved.”
Nancy Simms, the director of the Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Diversity at Humber College, said educating young people on issues such as consent, acceptance and LGBTQ issues are especially important as they reach the post-secondary and working worlds.
“In terms of LGBTQ issues, the statistics show there are increasing individuals who identify as a part of the LGBTQQII community,” Simms said.
Simms said the inclusion of diversity ideals are important because all Ontarians have the right to be treated with respect.
“The Wynne government has certainly put the whole notion of working, enabling, supporting and enriching the diverse communities that exist in Ontario,” she said. “I do think if we’re going to be a nation that’s going to be sustainable and competitive, that education certainly needs to start at a really young age in terms of preparing us,” Simms said.
Cora Boccia, a second-year Early Childhood Education student and lesbian, also thinks sex education needs to start early.
“Nowadays, with the media and what’s going on, children are exploring, and they don’t know who they are as a person,” Boccia said.
She says more needs to be done to teach youth in primary schools.
“They should be talking more about LGTBQ intimacies,” Boccia, said. “I feel for earlier generations that LGBTQ topics are coming more about, and they should be more talked about in classes, so parents can understand when their children come out (as queer).”
Vice-President of Ignite Student Life Ammar Abdul-Raheem said educating youth as they reach the college level is important to help students learn how to maintain stronger relationships.
“To me, sexual education is very important,” he said. “It’s important that we know how our bodies work – how to have better and stronger relationships, not just with our sexual partners, but with our friends.”