Hundreds of doctors, nurses and social workers are asking the Ontario government to reconsider its plan to repeal and replace a modernized sex-ed curriculum, arguing the decision would put students’ health at risk.
A petition signed by nearly 1,800 health-care workers was delivered to the provincial legislature Tuesday by NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.
Scrapping the sex-ed curriculum updated by the previous Liberal government in 2015 was one of the main campaign promises of Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford during the spring election. His government has said it will launch a provincewide public consultation in September on a new lesson plan. Until one is drafted, the government has asked schools to teach an older version of the curriculum that was last updated in 1998.
Dr. Andrea Chittle, a Guelph, Ont.-based family physician representing the group, said the updated plan dealt with issues that are crucial to students’ physical and mental health.
“It is imperative that children learn about difference and inclusivity, consent and safety,” she said. “The human development and sexual health components of the 2015 curriculum are critically important for informed decision-making related to health behaviours and relationships.”
The updated sex-ed curriculum included warnings about online bullying and sexting, but protesters, especially social conservatives, took issue with parts of the plan that talked about same-sex marriage, gender identity and masturbation.
During the campaign, Ford accused the Liberals of introducing a sex curriculum based on ideology, saying they had turned schools into social laboratories and kids into test subjects. He promised a Tory government would replace the curriculum with a teaching plan that was “age appropriate.”