This morning we sorted through some of the rubble, following Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's decision to shelve a moderate, inclusive sexual education curriculum. Here's the best of what we've found:
1. Folks who are angry about the decision have started a letter-writing campaign. Here's an example of an eloquent note. We've also developed a short letter to the Premier (and the leaders of the NDP and Conservatives) here. It only takes a minute to send.
2. Twitter users made "McGuinty" a trending topic in Canada yesterday afternoon and evening. Sentiment wasn't unanimous, but most were angry at the reversal. Here's some of what they had to say:
@juliedevaney Seriously McGuinty? Because treating sexuality like a dirty, shameful secret has always worked so well for kids: http://bit.ly/bwWolK #FFS
@naymark I prefer the gay version of flip flopping and not so much the political kind. #mcguinty
@ACToronto Media Release: ACT Supports Sexual Health Education in Schools http://bit.ly/dkvBO9 #canqueer #hiv #aids #onpoli #cdnpoli
@laddie McGuinty caves on new sex-ed curr. http://tgam.ca/MUO Sorry Christian folk. Now your kid will learn from mine. You won't like it.
3. The I support sex ed Facebook group we started topped 800 fans in less than 24 hours. The moral of the story: people are miffed.
4. We got our hands on copies of the 1998 and shelved 2010 health and physical education curriculums. Sex ed still starts in grade 3, but don't worry, there are no gays in the 1998 version. Phew.
UPDATE 8pm: The AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) condemned McGuinty's reversal in an impassioned press release.
“All students in Ontario deserve access to accurate and age-appropriate education about their sexual health,” says John Maxwell, director of policy and communications at ACT. “We are calling on the provincial government to maintain the proposed curriculum, developed by experts in physical health and education. Cancelling it now will impede efforts to reduce current rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.”
Read the full release here. Meanwhile, it looks like a hastily produced Facebook protest group will surpass 500 members this evening.
UPDATE 4pm: Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has shelved plans to update Ontario's sex ed curriculum.
"It's become pretty obvious to us we should give this a serious rethink," Mr McGuinty said.
The new curriculum will be shelved, he said, and the existing one that has been in place since 1998 will be used in Ontario public schools this fall. (read more at the Globe)
Yep, McGuinty is a coward.
UPDATE, 3:10pm: Sam Hammond, the president of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, tells Xtra that his union supports the new physical education and health curriculum.
It’s better for young people to get “accurate, age appropriate” information from educators “rather than getting this information from the internet or the street,” he says.
Hammond, a former gym and health teacher, says that young people are often aware of matters of sexual health, but have trouble distinguishing between myths and facts.
Either educators teach accurate, age-appropriate information, or young people will seek out the information themselves. But keeping kids in the dark about their bodies is not an option, he says. They'll find out anyway.
“The notion that we can protect children from this information is archaic,” he says. “It’s absurd.”
WAIT, THEY WANT TO BAN SEX ED ALTOGETHER?
Those who have spoken out against the new guidelines favour banning sexual education in public schools altogether. The CanWest chain is reporting that Catholic school boards in Ontario will simply ignore some of the new sexual and physical health curriculum, including mentions of gays. We don't know for sure, since they're too scared to talk to us.
Meanwhile, the Ontario PC caucus is already moving to support McVety's efforts. Is banning sex ed just as career-limiting as the faith-based schools question?
We're organizing folks who support sex ed in schools on Facebook - check out Facebook.com/YouthNeedFacts.