By Patrick B. Craine
TORONTO, Ontario, March 1, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - As of next year, Grade 6 students in Ontario's publicly-funded schools can expect to be taught that masturbation “is common and is not harmful and is one way of learning about your body,” according to a newly-revised curriculum document released by the Ministry of Education.
The Ministry put out its new Health and Physical Education curriculum for grades 1 to 8 in January, and a spokesperson has confirmed to LifeSiteNews (LSN) that the new curriculum will be mandatory for all schools, Catholic and public, in September 2010. The high school curriculum will be released this spring, and will be mandatory as of September 2011. At this point, it is unclear, however, whether Catholic schools are to be forced into teaching elements that violate Catholic teaching.
The new curriculum, replacing a previous version from 1998, aligns with the Ministry's campaign to promote “equity and inclusive education” in Ontario's schools, which includes the advancement of homosexualism and transgenderism. A notable aspect of the curriculum's revision is the attempt to instil a sense that homosexuality and transgenderism are perfectly normal.
The document includes curriculum expectations, which teachers are required to address, accompanied by sample teacher prompts and student responses that are meant “to indicate the content and scope of intended learning.”
Students begin to explore “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in grade 3, as part of an expectation to appreciate “invisible differences” in others. A desired response has the eight-year-old student recognizing that “some [families] have two mothers or two fathers.”
In grade 5, a student is expected to recognize that “things I cannot control include ... personal characteristics such as ... my gender identity [and] sexual orientation.”
In addition to learning about masturbation, a grade 6 student response suggests that students can better understand “sexual orientation” by “reading books that describe various types of families and relationships,” including those involving two “mothers” or “fathers.” The response adds the suggestion that students use the word “partner” rather than “husband” or “wife” to avoid the assumption that all couples are of opposite sexes.
In grades 7 and 8, “preventing pregnancy and disease,”“gender identity,” and “sexual orientation” become “key topics.”
Grade 7s are expected to be taught about “using condoms consistently if and when a person becomes sexually active.” A response from the twelve-year-old states that “People who think they will be having sex sometime soon should keep a condom with them so they will have it when they need it.” Another response has the student stating that one should avoid “anal intercourse without a condom” to prevent HIV/AIDS.
In grade 8, the use of contraception is a key component of the curriculum, and students are expected to “demonstrate an understanding of gender identity (e.g., male, female, two-spirited, transgendered, transsexual, intersex) and sexual orientation (e.g., heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual).” A grade 8 student response states it is important to have “all gender identities and sexual orientations portrayed positively in the media, in literature, and in materials we use at school.”
Patricia MacNeil, a spokesperson for the Ministry, told LSN that the new curriculum is indeed mandatory for all Ontario schools, including the Catholic ones. She said that there was “extensive consultation” on the revision beginning in September 2007, which included teachers, staff, and administrators from the Catholic school system. She also confirmed that the Ontario bishops' education arm, the Institute for Catholic Education (ICE), was involved in the process.
“The curriculum was certainly revised with Catholic educators and students needs in mind,” she wrote in an e-mail.
She explained that the Ministry establishes curriculum policy, and then the school boards are responsible for implementation. Teachers determine their approach to addressing the curriculum expectations laid out by the Ministry.
“Teachers design their lesson plans and present material in a manner that is open and respectful of various view points,” she wrote, “and it is expected that teachers in the Catholic education system will present the material in a manner that affirms the values of Catholic education.”
She explained further that “the ministry is working with [the Ontario Physical and Health Education Association] and ICE to provide teachers with resources to support the teaching of sensitive and challenging topics, including sexual health, gender identity, sexual orientation, and mental health.”
Given MacNeil's statement that the material may be presented “in a manner that affirms the values of Catholic education,” LSN followed up by asking yesterday whether that means that Catholic schools do not have to teach about contraception and other activities that violate Catholic values. LSN has not received a response as of press time.
The potential that this curriculum would be forced on Catholic schools is exacerbated in light of LSN's previous investigations into the Ministry's Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy. Under this strategy, the Ministry is requiring all boards, including the Catholic ones, to develop an equity policy that recognizes “sexual orientation” as a protected ground for non-discrimination, as well as committing to fighting “homophobia.”
When LSN spoke with MacNeil in January, she refused to answer, after repeated questioning, whether the Catholic Catechism's teaching that homosexual inclinations are “objectively disordered” and homosexual acts are “acts of grave depravity” (2357-2359) would be able to be taught in Catholic schools under the equity strategy.
The Institute for Catholic Education, the Catholic school boards, and other Catholic stakeholders have signed off on the equity strategy, believing that it would not disturb the teaching of authentic Catholic doctrine in Catholic schools.
But the Vatican has warned that protecting people from discrimination based on “sexual orientation” opens the door to outright promotion of homosexuality, and this new Health and Physical Education curriculum may, in fact, bear that out.
In 1992, while under the leadership of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith condemned the recognition of “sexual orientation” as comparable to immutable characteristics such as race and ethnicity. The statement affirmed that homosexuals should be granted the same rights as everyone else, but also emphasized that there can be just “discrimination” based on “sexual orientation,” regarding adoption or military recruitment, for example.
“The passage from the recognition of homosexuality as a factor on which basis it is illegal to discriminate can easily lead, if not automatically, to the legislative protection and promotion of homosexuality,” the document stated.
The Institute for Catholic Education was unavailable for comment.
See The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: Health and Physical Education, 2010 (revised) (http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/health18curr2010.pdf).
Dalton McGuinty, Premier
Toronto ON M7A 1A1
E-mail: Use this form (https://www.premier.gov.on.ca/feedback/feedback.asp?Lang=EN).
Hon. Leona Dombrowsky, Minister of Education
Mowat Block, 22nd Flr, 900 Bay St
Toronto, ON M7A 1L2
Tel: 1-800-387-5514 (TTY 1-800-263-2892)
Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario
10 St. Mary St., Suite 800
Toronto, Ontario M4Y 1P9
Phone: (416) 923-1423
Fax: (416) 923-1509
Institute for Catholic Education
10 St. Mary Street, Suite 604
Phone: (416) 962-0031
Fax: (416) 962-1672
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