The results from the first day of consultations on Ontario’s sex ed curriculum showed overwhelming support for the version that was discarded by Premier Doug Ford, who blamed "certain groups" for skewing the feedback.
“Certain groups flooded right at the beginning … but we’re going to run through the 35,000 responses,” said Ford on Tuesday.
The government plans to develop and test a new curriculum in the spring, based on the consultations, and to introduce it before the start of the next school year.
Just 24 of the 1,600 initial submissions, obtained by the Canadian Press, supported the Ford government’s decision to repeal the curriculum brought in by Kathleen Wynne’s government in 2015, and replace it with one based on the previous curriculum, which hadn’t been updated since 1998.
The modernized curriculum was updated to include material on things like online bullying and sexting, but many socially conservative parents took issue with the parts addressing same-sex relationships, gender identity and masturbation.
"Teach the new curriculum," said one submission, according to CP. "My tax dollars funded the research to come up with it and it's not horribly out of date like the one from the 90s. Any teacher that teaches from the old curriculum is a liability towards the safety of our community."
"Please don't turn back time," said another. "Our kids deserve better — they need to learn consent, diversity, how to navigate social media. This is bullying the majority to satisfy a religious minority. It's not OK to harm our kids for political gain."
The previous curriculum, written in the pre-internet era, did not address gender identity, consent or online security. The Ford government announced prior to the start of the school year that it had come up with an interim curriculum that touched on same sex relationships and other issues that had been removed, but critics believed it was too vague.
Ford campaigned on the idea that parents weren’t properly consulted by the Wynne government before the previous curriculum was implemented. Wynne pushed back against this idea, however, saying that around 4,000 parents were consulted, along with psychiatrists, psychologists and police.
Cover image: Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, gets ready to speak while visiting the new Amazon office in downtown Toronto on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette