A new sexual education curriculum in Ontario, Canada has sparked controversy, protests, and false allegations officials are now struggling to correct. In addition to thousands of parents protesting earlier in the month after feeling they had not been consulted about changes to such a sensitive area of the curriculum, a Facebook group calling to keep children home from school all next week has gained over five thousand supporters.
This has left educators worried not only that hundreds of parents may request exemptions from sexual education for their children, but also about how to counteract the incorrect information fueling some of the opposition. The actual curriculum does not vary much from the rest of Canada, but this has become obscured by the spread of misinformation. Janet McDougald, chair of the Peel District School Board, told the Toronto Star that “A small fraction are intentionally misleading people (about the curriculum), but the vast majority are confused and upset about what they’re reading and we need the (education) minister to work more aggressively at providing parents the answers they need to feel comfortable about it going forward.” McDougald will be requesting on Tuesday that the trustees write an open letter to Queen’s Park for assistance combating rumors.
These include rumors found on flyers being passed around in schools saying that “In Grade 1 they will learn to reveal their private parts (not just name), they will see posters and flash cards of private parts, they will learn to touch the private area and identify it on themselves and others.” They also claim that “Grade 6 is about the promotion of self-discovery through masturbation. Our 12-year-old daughter or son, who is not even a teenager yet, will be asked in class to explore his or her own body by touching their private parts, masturbating and pleasuring their body.” Both of these are not true confirms Nilani Logeswaran, spokesperson for Education Minister Liz Sandals.