By Patrick B. Craine
Update: Since this story was published, Premier McGuinty has announced that he is indefinitely suspending plans to implement the new sex-ed curriculum across the board, due to the intense backlash that it has received. Read more here.
TORONTO, Ontario, April 22, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced Wednesday that the Ontario government will be requiring Catholic schools to teach the new provincial, explicit sex ed curriculum that been slammed not only by Catholic leaders but the Progressive Conservative party and secular columnists.
“They're part of the publicly funded school system here in Ontario and this is part of our curriculum,” said McGuinty, who says he is himself Catholic. “If parents are uncomfortable with certain aspects of this new curriculum, they can and they are free to withdraw their children from the classroom.”
The Ministry of Education released the new health and physical education curriculum quietly in January; it will be mandatory in all of Ontario's publicly-funded schools beginning in September. A new high school curriculum is expected this spring, to be mandatory as of September 2011.
The curriculum is designed to align with the Ministry's equity and inclusive education strategy, which is seeking, among other things, to promote homosexualism and transgenderism in Ontario's schools.
Sex ed is now set to begin as early as grade 1, where students will learn about their body parts, including genitalia. In grade 3, they begin exploring “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” In grade 6, students are taught that masturbation is “common” and “not harmful,” and by grade 7 they are to learn about oral and anal intercourse and how to use condoms.
Leona Dombrowsky, Ontario's new Minister of Education, also insisted Wednesday that Catholic schools must teach the new program. “This is the Ontario curriculum, and it’s the curriculum for all schools and all students,” said the former Catholic school board trustee.
“We do expect that schools will work with parents, and if parents would say that there is part of the curriculum that they do not want their child to receive, then they have the right to make that choice and work with the classroom teacher to accommodate that,” she said.
Opposition leader Tim Hudak, of the Progressive Conservative party, accused the government Wednesday of keeping the new program quiet because they knew it would infuriate parents. “I mean, Dalton McGuinty does a press release when he has a good hair day,” said Hudak, according to the Canadian Press. “They do press releases about everything under the sun, but somehow these fundamental changes to the sex education curriculum – that will see kids as young as six years old getting sex ed – they simply tried to slip by everybody.”
Hudak said the revisions “don't sit right” with most Ontario parents, and so he called for more consultation with parents.
While Minister Dombrowsky has claimed that the Catholic Church in Ontario supports the curriculum, the Ontario Catholic bishops and at least one Catholic school board have already denounced it and insisted that they refuse to teach material that violates Catholic beliefs.
Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa has called for “a firestorm of response” from concerned parents, and insisted that sexuality and family life is best discussed “in the context of a warm family that explains things to them and helps them to deal with that.”
Further, a representative of the Ottawa Catholic school board has maintained that McGuinty is “misinformed” about Catholic schools teaching the full curriculum.
Lou Piovesan, general secretary of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario, told QMI Agency that the Catholic schools' denominational rights, guaranteed by the Canadian Constitution, “would supersede Ministry of Education proposed curriculum content.”
If the Ministry's curriculum “is indeed determined to be at variance with those principles,” he said, “it would not be endorsed for use in Catholic schools.”
Piovesan also indicated that the Ontario bishops' education arm, the Institute for Catholic Education, is going to be revising the new sex ed curriculum for use in Catholic schools. This revision will need to be approved by the bishops and is expected to be released in the fall.
Philip Horgan, president of the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL), told LifeSiteNews (LSN), “These issues are best addressed in the privacy of the family. Parents are the primary educators of our children, as recognized by most international documents, including the International Declaration of Human Rights.”
He noted, further, that CCRL is “troubled” by the Premier's defence that parents can opt their children out of objectionable components if they choose. “That may be the Premier's position today, but our experience in British Columbia or in Quebec has been quite the opposite,” he said. Horgan pointed out, for example, that the Quebec government has decided to deny exemptions to their ethics and religious culture course, and that this has been upheld by the Quebec courts.
In the legislature Thursday, the government invited the bishops and concerned Catholics to voice their concerns, reports the Canadian Press. Cabinet minister Sandra Pupatello said that the Ministry of Education will be speaking with the bishops directly. At the same time, she argued that the new curriculum should not make them uncomfortable.
But the Ministry of Education had already required Catholic schools to move towards acceptance of homosexualism by forcing them to recognize special rights for homosexuals: every school board in the province has been required to develop a new equity policy by this fall that recognizes “sexual orientation” as a criteria upon which discrimination is prohibited.
Despite a 1992 warning from the Vatican that such a recognition “can easily lead, if not automatically, to the legislative protection and promotion of homosexuality,” the Catholic schools believed that buying into the equity strategy would not compromise their teaching of Catholic beliefs. In fact, the strategy was developed with the support of ICE.
In January, a Ministry spokesperson refused upon repeated questioning to answer whether Catholic schools would be able to continue teaching Catholic beliefs about homosexuality under the Ministry's equity strategy.
LifeSiteNews did not hear back from Premier McGuinty's office, the Ministry of Education, or the Institute for Catholic Education by press time.
Dalton McGuinty, Premier
Toronto ON M7A 1A1
Fax: (416) 325-3745
E-mail: Use this form.
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)
Email: [email protected]
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
E-mail: [email protected]
See LifeSiteNews' original coverage of the new sex ed curriculum:
Mandatory Curriculum for Ontario Schools Promotes Homosexuality, Masturbation
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Ontario Pro-Family Leaders Organize Rally against New Sex Ed Curriculum
Ontario Gvmt Won’t Say Whether Catholic Schools Can Teach Beliefs on Homosexuality
Ontario Gov't Initiative Would Force Catholic Schools to Violate Church Teaching
Find a full listing of LifeSiteNews' coverage of the Ontario government's explicit sex-ed program here.