While the Ontario NDP supports the 2010 sexual education curriculum, it’s not up to them to say what should happen next. That’s the message from their leader, Andrea Horwath.
“It sits at the feet of the Premier,” says Andrea Horwath. “The ball is in their court, and we’ll see what they do next.”
In January, the province released an updated sexual education and health curriculum, the first in 12 years. But after complaints from the religious right, McGuinty said April 22 that the province would pull the new curriculum pending a “re-think” and further consultations with parents. The curriculum could be delayed, shelved indefinitely, or altered to appease its critics.
“Obviously, they didn’t put forward a package that they could stand behind,” she says. “And they didn’t plan a proper rollout.”
A form letter sent from Horwath’s office to supporters of the proposed changes walks a fine line. On one hand, it hints that her office sides with those who think more consultations are warranted, while on the other hand suggests that the changes were urgently needed. (See below.)
“I believe there’s a need to update the curriculum,” Horwath says. “We were happy to see the curriculum change. We think it’s important for children to get factual information from a young age.”
However, she would not comment on what the NDP would like the government to do next, saying her party would take a wait-and-see approach, pending the Liberals’ next move.
But whatever they do, she wants them to move quickly.
“I hope they don’t take the low road and wait until they’ve weathered another election” before moving ahead with an update, Horwath says.
LETTER FROM THE OFFICE OF ANDREA HORWATH
Thank you for your email to Andrea Horwath, Leader, Ontario’s NDP concerning the sexual health curriculum in grade school.
Children get their moral direction from their parents, but they get much of their information from other sources. It is imperative, therefore, that schools provide accurate information regarding health, gender and reproductive issues.
Most parents welcome these kinds of programs in schools because it complements what is being done at home. Some parents appreciate these programs because they are uncomfortable providing such information to their children and some parents don’t have the knowledge required to handle the questions that may be asked.
Children and their parents will make decisions about what behavior is acceptable and appropriate. What is important is that all schools in Ontario provide students with accurate information on which to base those decisions.
The current curriculum is out-of-date and needs to be modified. Unfortunately Dalton McGuinty failed to engage, consult and prepare parents for the changes, and parents objected. It is critical that the government consult not only on the content but on most appropriate age for the introduction of the content.
Let’s hope that the next time Dalton McGuinty proposes much-needed changes to the health, gender and reproduction curriculum he will do it right, with more participation and less paternalism.
Leader’s Correspondence Officer
On Behalf of
Andrea Horwath, Leader, Ontario’s NDP