Sex Ed

The Ontario government recently announced, then withdrew, a new Health and Physical Education curriculum.  They withdrew it because of an outcry claiming that this new curriculum was bad.  Some rabid protesters even said it was "bordering on criminal".


I read the new curriculum to be sure.  Guess what?  Nothing in it is remarkableRosie DiManno disagrees, and says the new curriculum is a sermon in disguise.  But Rosie DiManno seems more opposed to the curriculum's content on "Healthy Relationships" rather than its discusson of anatomy.

Ironically almost nothing in this curriculum is new and almost nothing in it is being taught earlier than it was.  I went to a Catholic school and we learned all about the reproductive system and the names of the body parts.  We learned about relationships.  We learned about puberty.  A couple of these topics are being taught a year or two earlier but that is not really a big deal.  And the "Healthy Relationships" material is geared towards identifying harm, such as abuse and neglect. It is not about trying to enumerate all the possible healthy relationships that might exist.  If you think it's a bad thing for a 6-year-old to be able to tell an adult that someone inappropriately touched him on the penis, maybe you should get a job working for the Pope's child-abuse squad.

This whole thing should be a tempest in a teapot, but sadly there are too many people who are afraid that they won't be able to tell their kids that being gay is wrong, or that God will punish them if they use a condom.  Rosie DiManno says that, especially in Toronto,
such a richly multicultural city, where so many families are immigrants and first-generation Canadians of diverse, often conservative faiths and cultures, it was demanding a great deal for parents to accept invasive sex instruction in the schools at complete variance with ethics taught at home. While many of us may disagree with some of those moral paradigms, we can’t compel others to change their personal views, or meekly hand us their very young children so that we can shape theirs.
 Actually, we should demand that they hand us their children so we can fix their broken brainwashing at home.  The schools already do this to a great extent.  Schools teach that racism is wrong.  They teach that humans evolved from some other primate.  They teach that the world is round.  These are simple facts about the world, and it is the school's job to teach these facts, even if the parents want to stick their heads in the sand.  And for those sexually-conservative parents who want to pretend that homosexuality is a choice, or that God hates fags, or some other brain-dead concept, well, the schools should be teaching their kids too.  Everyone is entitled to an opinion but you are not entitled to your own facts.

Finally, it has come out that the Catholic school board had been negotiating permission to teach a different curriculum.  I went through the Catholic school system and it was not too bad, but there were definitely some missing parts (we did not really learn about contraception).  Coincidentally, the Catholic high school in my city had an unusually high number of girls drop out because they were pregnant.  Our school didn't have any facility to help such girls and so they typically went (out of sight, out of mind) to a different school that had daycare facilities.  These girls might have been in a different position if the principal (a nun) hadn't thrown away boxes of free condoms given to the school to supplement the health program.  It is time for the Catholic School Board to teach proper sex-ed.  We don't live in the 1950s anymore and the fact is that teenagers have sex and STIs are on the rise.  Abstinence-only education has been proven to not reduce pregnancies nor STIs.  And a good portion of the Catholic laity is not opposed to STIs (witness the demonstrations when the Pope came to Downsview).

The premier has said that the curriculum will be re-opened for discussions and may be revised.  If people actually READ the new curriculum maybe those discussions will be useful.  But probably the homophobes and condom-phobes will ruin things for everyone.


Anonymous said...

"Abstinence-only education has been proven to not reduce pregnancies nor STIs."

Where has this been proven? I've read many research reports stating that it does.

Mr. Shiny and New said...

Re: Anonymous:

In 2007 a study found that abstinence-only education was ineffective; a similar study in 2009 prompted Obama to cut funding for abstinence-only education, while in 2010 a study found that for certain age groups it has some effect at delaying the onset of sexual activity. However, the authors of this study themselves claim that the effect is short-lived, thus by the middle-teens it is having no effect at all.

The 2009 study specifically measured rates of STIs and condom/contraception use, among other things. One of the key findings was that, among groups of students who had been taught abstinence-only (and made virginity pledges), rates of sexual activity were the same as among students with comprehensive sex-ed, but the abstinence-only people were less likely to use contraceptives or protection. T

So not only were they having sex, but it was less-safe sex.