Posted by on 08/30/2016

This needs to be said: it is simply wrong to state that Ontario’s new sex-education curriculum was arrived at without adequate consultation.

I am glad Ontario Conservative leader Patrick Brown has finally come out and said he will not scrap the modern sex-ed curriculum. It is a shame it took him three tries to reach a firm position, but in the end he reached the right one.

Likewise, while it is a shame that as an MP he voted against equal marriage and capitalised on thinly veiled homophobia to recruit social conservatives during his leadership race, at least he is now firmly stating he supports equality for LGBT people and a modern, inclusive sex-ed curriculum.

There is much more he needs to do to support LGBT Canadians, beyond simply marching in Pride parades, and I hope he will do so. (He could start by changing the name of the banner he marched in Pride under, LGBTory, since it gives the impression of erasure of the trans community.)

However, whilst Brown has now repudiated his previous position on sex ed, he still maintains the red herring that parents were not consulted enough on the new curriculum.

It’s a trope but it’s true: a lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can tie its shoes. Well, this is the case with the sex curriculum.

Here are the simple facts.

Since 2007, all curricula in Ontario goes through a vigorous process of review by community members and educational experts under the “Curriculum Council”. The group reports regularly to the Minister of Education.

The sex-ed curriculum was last updated in 1998. As a high-school student in 2007, I remember sitting in a meeting with my peers at the Ministry of Education one afternoon. The topic at hand? A consultation on how to change the sex-ed curriculum under the auspices of the Ministry’s new “Equitable Education Strategy”. Let me repeat: this consultation was in 2007.

Between 2007 and 2015 when the new curriculum was finally implemented, it went through further consultation, even being temporarily shelved when the former Premier got cold feet over a backlash from social conservatives.

When Premier Kathleen Wynne sought to bring back the curriculum a few years later, parents were not only consulted through the regular Ministry curriculum reviews; there were surveys sent to each school to be completed through the school’s parent councils. I believe this further step was rather unprecedented, yet it was still criticised as inadequate.

Here’s the thing: the curriculum was nearly 20 years out of date. The new one is a sensible document. It was consulted on through normal and extra processes.

Contrary to the claim out there, it is instead likely that it received more consultation than any other curriculum in place in Ontario today.

Those who are saying otherwise are not simply misinformed and misinforming the public. They’re using this misinformation as something of a red herring to avoid having to say what in the curriculum they actually object to, given that they know it is socially unacceptable to say they object to evidence-based teachings about sexual health and equality for LGBT people.

That said, I’m glad Patrick Brown is no longer one of those people playing footsie with those who oppose modern and inclusive sex ed. It took him long enough to get there, but get there he did. Now, here’s hoping he goes further in his support for the LGBT community.

(Photo via the LGBTory Facebook page.)