TORONTO, August 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — An Ontario school board implicitly confirmed warnings from pro-family groups that the opt-out provision for the Doug Ford government’s new sex ed curriculum is “almost meaningless.”
Both Parents As First Educators (PAFE) and Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) blasted the Progressive Conservative premier for breaking his vow to repeal the radical Liberal sex ed curriculum when the Tories released their version last week.
They described the Grade 1 to 8 sex ed curriculum as virtually identical to the 2015 Liberal product, an assessment shared by most media, and the Liberals themselves, according to this tweet:
— Ontario Liberal Party (@OntLiberal) August 21, 2019
PAFE and Campaign Life also decried the opt-out policy memo released Wednesday as next to useless.
That was implicitly confirmed by Carla Pereira, director of communications for the Peel District School Board, in an interview with LifeSiteNews.
As pointed out last week by the Toronto Globe and Mail, while the former Liberal government provided parents with an opt-out provision, Peel does not not allow exemptions for lessons on gender identity or homosexuality because these are protected under the human rights code.
The Toronto District School Board and the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board follow similar policies.
And the Peel board’s notice on the Ford sex ed curriculum seemed to signal that the board will not comply with the ministry’s opt-out policy when it comes to LGBTQ lessons.
“It’s important to note that schools will not provide advance notice for classroom discussions, events and/or activities that build a climate of inclusion and safety, including discussions about different kinds of families or any of the other human rights protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code,” states the Peel District School Board.
No opt-out for discussions outside formal sex ed
But Pereira says the Peel board’s statement is based on the ministry’s opt-out memo.
That memo requires that schools give “20 days notice that we’re going to be teaching this particular lesson related to human development and sexual health education,” Pereira told LifeSiteNews.
“Any discussion outside of that lesson is permitted under their new curriculum,” she said.
“References to human development and sexual health made by teachers, board staff, or students outside the intentional teaching of content related to the Human Development and Sexual Health expectations are not included in the exemption policy/procedure,” states the ministry policy.
“So the opt-out from the ministry doesn’t prohibit schools or staff from having discussions about anything in that strand outside of that lesson,” observed Pereira.
For example, “if a student asked a question about gender identity, the teacher would be able to respond to that in a way that explains what that means, but it would not be a requirement by the ministry to provide advance notice for that kind of thing,” she told LifeSiteNews.
Or “if a teacher is using a textbook that has an example in it of two dads, we don’t have to give advance notice of that,” she said.
The ministry has mandated that all boards have an exemption policy in place by November 30 for the sex ed portion of the health curriculum, which is taught in the spring.
Periera contends that the Peel board’s policy, which hasn’t been approved yet, will comply with the ministry for gender identity and sexual orientation when these are formal curriculum objectives.
In the Ford sex ed curriculum, sexual orientation is a mandatory topic in Grade 5, and gender identity in Grades 7 and 8.
“In that strand, before we teach it, we must provide parents with 20 days’ notice, so that will be done,” she said.
“Outside of that, there is no requirement for parents to be given advance notice, and if you want to know why [the ministry] decided that, that’s a question for them,” Pereira said.
Possible clash with Ford government?
Jack Fonseca, director of political operations for Campaign Life Coalition, questioned whether some school boards would “refuse to allow exemptions for lessons on homosexuality and transgenderism.”
He also questioned if the Ford government would enforce the policy if school boards refused to comply.
Reaction by Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, to the opt-out provision spelled trouble from that quarter, he noted.
“You can’t have an opt-out from human rights,” Hammond told the Ottawa Citizen.
The EFTO president’s remark “suggests that some school boards may indeed refuse to comply” with the opt-out policy when it comes to gender identity and homosexuality, Fonseca told LifeSiteNews.
The Hamilton-Wentworth school board fought in court against father Steve Tourloukis’s request for advance notification of lessons on these two topics, he said.
The court agreed with the board’s argument that because gender identity and sexual orientation are “human rights issues,” parental exemption rights “must be denied,” he added.
While what boards will do on this score may not be clear until they post their policies in November, Pereira’s response underscores PAFE president Tanya Granic Allen warning that the opt-out provision as it stands is “of no value.”
Opt-out “almost meaningless”
“The Ford government has given carte blanche to teachers to teach any topic they like, at any grade, at any age,” Granic Allen said in an email to supporters.
“There is no ‘opt out’ that will protect children from being exposed to age inappropriate material, and nothing preventing teachers from forcing gender identity theory on unsuspecting students in any grade, and there’s no ‘opt out’ from spontaneous class discussion,” she said.
Ministry lawyers assured the court in January during a Charter challenge to an interim sex ed repeal that teachers could teach what they wanted and at the grade level they chose, pointed out Granic Allen.
Fonseca agrees that the opt-out provision is “almost meaningless.”
“Even if you pull your child out of all sex-ed classes, the leftist educators will still try to get your child in a different class or subject, outside of the ‘official’ sex-ed lessons,” he told LifeSiteNews.
“Schools are pushing LGBT ideology in a hundred different ways, in different subjects, throughout the school year,” observed Fonseca.
As well as events such as “Pride” month, “we have history, English, religion and even math teachers embedding LGBT indoctrination sessions in their lessons. They justify it as their ‘duty’ to promote ‘inclusion and diversity’,” he said.
Both Campaign Life and PAFE say Ford betrayed parents and that they are going to take action.
“Ford lied,” maintains Granic Allen.
“We cannot stay quiet and do nothing,” she said. “We must stand for our rights, for our children, and for the future of Ontario.”