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Education minister says Ontario schools will still teach consent and gender identity

A subsequent statement from Doug Ford's government doesn't address the topics specifically.
Premier Doug Ford applauds as Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell delivers the speech from the throne to open the new legislative session at the Ontario Legislature at Queen's Park in Toronto on Thursday, June 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

The Ontario government, which announced last week that the province would be reverting to a curriculum that never included topics like gender identity and consent, now says those subjects will be taught in schools this coming summer.

Following days of aggressive pushback from the official opposition, as well as parents and educators, Education Minister Lisa Thompson said during Question Period on Monday that students will learn about consent, cyber safety, as well as gender identity.


Only the parts of the curriculum related to “developing sexual relations” will be replaced, said Thompson. More details are expected this afternoon.

“We are going to be preparing our students and preparing them for the realities of 2018 and we’re going to be embracing what was being taught in 2014,” Thompson told reporters.

“I actually was very clear last week … contrary to what was reported,” she continued.

“What we’ll be taking a look at and rolling back to 2014 with is specifically the curriculum that embraces preparing students for the realities of today. We will be rolling back our sex-ed focus. What we’ll be looking at is the developing sexual relations. That’s the part in the curriculum that we’ll be taking a look at.”

But a subsequent statement from the government doesn’t address these topics specifically.

In the statement, Thompson restated the government’s intention to consult with parents starting in the fall, and that they had “made no decisions on what the new curriculum will look like.”

“The final decision on the scope of the new curriculum will be based on what we hear from Ontario parents,” she said, adding that until the consultations are done, the province would be reverting to the curriculum that was taught in 2014, which “leaves ample space to discuss current social issues.”

The old curriculum, which was last updated in 1998, makes no mention of gender identity and sexual orientation, online safety as it relates to sex, or consent.

The announcement last week prompted the mobilization of education activists, teachers and parents, some of whom vowed to find ways to keep teaching the concepts, even if they weren’t officially mandated by the province.

Cover image: Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press