Conservative parents’ concerns mount over Ontario’s sex education curriculum

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Over the weekend about one thousand people gathered outside of Queen’s Park to protest the repeal of the Wynne government’s sex-ed curriculum. 

In one fell swoop, Ontario’s new Progressive Conservative Premier, Doug Ford, followed through on his election promise to repeal the Liberal’s controversial sex education curriculum in public schools.

The day after Ford announced the repeal, another announcement was made by his new Minister of Education, Lisa Thompson, who said, “gender issues, cyberbullying, and consent will still be taught in the class this fall, but, ‘developing sexual relations, will be reviewed.”

To date, there have been no new clarifications made on what the new curriculum will look like, but there has been a lot of speculation.   

Context spoke with two parents with diametrically opposite views on the repealing of the controversial Ontario sex-ed curriculum, first, the father of Reateah Parsons, Glen Canning, and mother of four, and head of Parents As First Educators (PAFE), Tanya Granic Allen.

Both of their opinions as parents on this polarizing issue couldn’t be more different. 

GLEN CANNING 

Glen Canning believes his daughter, Rehteah Parsons, who committed suicide in 2013, would still be alive had the boys who allegedly committed a crime (none of the boys were charged in Rehteah’s case) by sharing sexual images of her online, were taught about consent, cyber-bullying, and ‘sexting’ in school. 

Canning is angry that the new Ford government is repealing the sex education curriculum.

Canning says, “Every kid counts, every transgender, gay, straight, and every kid struggles especially in school. Some kids go home to nothing – no role models, no right from wrong, that’s why teaching tolerance and acceptance in school is so important.”

WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON IN SCHOOLS? 

Canning believes there’s more going on in schools than most understand, “This isn’t the 1950s, kids need educating at very young ages about what’s appropriate and what’s not. Many learn basically what they hear at school or online.”

It would seem in this deep and divisive issue that both sides are not hearing each other, but Canning disagrees, “I think both sides always have heard each other – people had the option not to have their children participate in it, and it wouldn’t have affected them if they didn’t. They always had that option.”

Canning continues, “People need to remember there are trans kids in school – and they have a right to be safe. We need to protect them, and the curriculum helped that. These kids shouldn’t be attacked or looked down upon. Frankly, not talking about them won’t make them go away. They’re more subject to harassment, bullying, mental health issues, and suicide.”

Canning says there is a real disconnect of compassion among students when dealing with the very difficult issues of gender fluidity, trans, gay and the LGBTQ community in general, “Students are really confused,” he says and that’s why he believes the former sex-ed curriculum should stay.

When speaking in schools about his daughter’s tragic story, his voice cracks as he remembers some boys in their seats smirking, “I see them giggling about it at a very young age. We have no idea what’s going on in families – we can only hope it will change and every child will be protected when they go to school. Regardless of what they’re working out in their lives.”

SOME SCHOOLS IN ONTARIO ARE VIOLENT

Canning says he’s been told by more than a few teachers and students about violence in schools. In one particular school, he says, “There is a group of male students who run the school.” He says this isn’t unusual either. “They bully and torment people, always the weaker ones, and a blind eye is turned toward it and it is enabled.”

Canning thinks the Ford government is on the right track with the possible keeping of consent, gender, and cyberbullying in it, but wonders, “What’s the difference? Why not just keep the old curriculum?”

TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION – TANYA GRANIC ALLEN

That’s where Tanya Granic Allen comes in. Allen has become a highly controversial speaker on the issue and she’s not shying away.

Allen says she is determined to see the Wynne government’s sex-ed curriculum completely repealed, not partially as is now in question.

“The minister of education needs to be very clear and she needs to come out with a statement saying that there will not be the unscientific gender identity theory taught to children in classrooms this fall.”

The issue of gender fluidity is of particular concern for many conservative parents, and teaching kids too soon about things they’re not yet aware of, “I think most parents, when they send their child to school, trust that they’ll be taught based on scientific fact. Gender theory is unscientific, and many researchers and scientists have made it very clear that gender and biology are separate, and it’s socially constructed. When scientists are saying it’s not based on science, this is a red flag for parents.”

The former Wynne government sex education curriculum was 242 pages – Allen read it all and said only three per cent is what she has the most difficulty with, “I’ll give Wynne credit – the thing that started all of this was the fact that technology was progressing, and certain things needed to be updated for sure, like keeping up with the Internet, sexting, and whatnot, but she pulled a bait and switch. She claimed that the update was to modernize the curriculum in light of emerging technology, but she failed the students when she pulled the switch.

Instead, I believe she used this opportunity to advance her ideology and her social engineering of the children and to impose gender ideology. She did not include, for example, Internet pornography; and you know that’s very disturbing to me considering we all know what kind of problems children can get into on their phones. I believe Wynne lied and fooled Ontarians.”

Allen says her biggest concern is how easy it is for children to see pornography at the touch of a button on any device and wonders why that wasn’t addressed in the curriculum.

“It is shocking to consider the Wynne curriculum was developed, in part, under the observation of a minister, the deputy minister of education who is now a convicted child pornographer.”

Disgraced educator, Benjamin Levin was jailed in 2015 for “sickening and disturbing online child pornography activities.”

“It’s curious to me why pornography is not mentioned anywhere in the curriculum. And do you know what else is missing? The words love and marriage. Neither of these words are in the curriculum.” 

POLITICS AND POLEMICS

Allen has been vilified by some on the Left and hailed as a hero by some conservatives on the Right.

“For me, as a Christian, I think we’re all called to speak up for the truth and no matter the cost. My own children aren’t even in the public system, but we don’t leave children behind to be sexualized too early in life.”  

CHRISTIANS IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE

Allen strongly believes, “At the end of the day we need to be respectful in this dialogue. We all have to be heard. Being respectful of everyone, and nobody should be pushing their agenda on us or on innocent children.”

With files from Lorna Dueck

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