Ontario Sex Ed: Why Parents Need To Calm Down and Embrace The Change

Alyson Schafer addresses parents' concerns and explains why the sex-ed changes are good for our kids.
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 24:  Protesters rally against Ontario's new sex education curriculum outside Queen's Park.        (Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 24: Protesters rally against Ontario's new sex education curriculum outside Queen's Park. (Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

If we look back throughout history, there has always been a time of revolt and upheaval to pave the way to progress and positive change: abolition of segregation, women’s suffrage and the Black Lives Matter movement to name a few.

So the fact that Ontario’s new sex ed curriculum is freaking out parents is completely understandable to me. In a democracy, those who oppose the curriculum have the right to protest, rally, petition, appeal and/or switch school systems. That is why I embrace and promote the democratic process.

In fact, the democratic process was used to develop the curriculum. The Wynne government wisely included the opinion of one parent representative from each school to weigh in.

While the majority of Ontario parents are on board, there seems to be only a few contentious issues among the minority who are opposed.

Let’s look at each individually:

Sex-ed: Okay, let’s face it, people are triggered by the name alone. Sex is simply a dirty word to many and when they hear it, they shut down their ability to think rationally or listen openly. British Columbia refers to their equivalent curriculum as “Body Science.” Maybe we should adopt that language, too?

Same-sex relationships: Same-sex marriages are legal in Canada. As a country, we embrace the equality and normalcy of homosexuality. Public education should reflect public laws that govern society.

Masturbation: Ask any mental health professional and we will all answer unequivocally: masturbation is normal and healthy. People are tormented by guilt over this most human of behaviours. Explaining these sexual sensations are a part of our physiology; it’s like teaching the science of nerve conduction and friction.

Gender expression: Like same sex-marriages, gender non-conforming children are healthy, normal and have rights in our country. Schools are a subsection of our country. School rights should reflect greater societal rights. Schools are already adopting gender-neutral bathrooms as Obama has in the White House.

Prevnet.ca, a world leader in bullying research and school programming, shares stats that including LGBQT committees in schools is an important factor in reducing bullying.

Contraception: My grandmother campaigned to get sex education into the school curriculum in Delaware in the 60s. Those who opposed argued that if schools taught youth about contraception they would be condoning, or worse, inviting youth to engage in sexual intercourse. Research shows the opposite is true. Education always wins out. We have reduced unwanted pregnancy, STDs and the average age of being sexually active is getting older each year.

The truth of the matter is, our kids are being exposed to all sorts of conversations, social media and YouTube videos where they are being forced to make their own assumptions when it comes to “Body Science.” Some parents feel uncomfortable with the curriculum because they aren’t sure they're ready to answer the follow-up questions that might come up at the dinner table. For the majority of us, our own parents never had these conversations with us as children and we turned out just fine. Right?

But think of where you learned the facts, how much of it was incorrect and if that is the same avenue you want for your kids. Trust me, you will survive this!

One last thing to note -- you absolutely have the right to opt-out of the class, but that will only invite further curiosity and playground discussions. Would you rather them hear it from a trained professional or second-hand from the eight year old who was allowed to attend the class and is giving a Coles notes version of what was discussed?

Ontario Sex Education By Grade