Recent changes to the Ontario sex ed curriculum are upsetting.
I don’t mean the 2015 update, rather the fact that the new conservative government has decided to roll back to the previous curriculum. Apparently the revised 2015 curriculum was upsetting to some of Doug Ford’s voter base and one of his party promises was to repeal it. The plan at the moment is to revert to the 1998 sex ed curriculum. I could be snarky as hell on this, but I don’t know that it serves much of a point. The world has changed a lot in the 20 years since this past curriculum was implemented. Here’s what the world looked like back then:
- Bill Cosby was a venerated family friendly icon.
- We thought the world banking system was going to collapse over a calendar issue.
- The human population of the world was under six billion
- The world had never seen a black president.
- It was illegal for LGBT people to be married in Canada.
- Apple created the iMac. iPhones were still years away.
- Netflix was a physical operation.
- The Global Financial Crisis was still ten years away.
Time changes, right? The world is a lot bigger now (roughly 7.6 billion people) and we’re wildly interconnected through the internet. Obama came and went. Turns out Bill Cosby wasn’t such a nice guy. A lot of people don’t even have TVs. Y2K would almost be old enough to drink by now. Because of smart phones, we can all ignore each other on public transit. The future is now.
Socially, it’s a whole new playing field. LGBT relationships have been accepted so widely that corporations cynically try to cash in on their sexuality every year in Pride. The concepts of gender have strayed beyond their binary trappings and we’re questioning the validity of old patterns. Like, why do single stall bathrooms need to be gendered? We have hashtags now, and #metoo has brought awareness to a ton of people about the necessity of consent. Same sex couples have kids enrolled in public school. While discrimination certainly still exists, the concept of treating someone differently because of their sexual orientation is a relic from ages long past.
The 2015 curriculum sought to address a bunch of these changes and prepare children for the world they live in. Concepts like the importance of consent and respect for people different to oneself were all part of it. Body positivity and self-confidence, challenging stereotypes and understanding one’s own body all found their place into it. The curriculum talked about cyber-bullying and creating healthy boundaries. Makes sense.
Apparently this was a bit too far for some parents. On one hand, I can realise that change is scary. The idea of kids growing up too fast fills some parents with dread. Thing is, whether kids call it their wee wee or penis, it’s not gonna change its form or function. Even if you’re against expanded gender and sexual orientation expressions, pretending they don’t exist isn’t gonna make them go away. Being aware of the existence of sex isn’t gonna make kids suddenly want to do it. Netflix is available at any time now and it’s great. I’m sure most kids would rather watch cartoons than porn.
1998 was a wholly different world. Let’s please not go back to there.