I know I just posted, but this is a timely and important matter. Those of you who reside in Ontario most likely have heard about the repeal of the 2015 sexuality education curriculum across all grade levels. You know, the one that was super sweet and progressive and taught about important, or should I say, vital, information on consent, sex, and gender fluidity.
I am not here to plug my political affiliations, but rather, to shed some light on this policy and the implications associated with its removal, in hopes you will sign the petition I have posted below to keep it alive. We need our children and the young adults we teach to receive this education. I will provide a brief history, to ignite the fight in you, if it wasn’t already there. I will focus on this concept of consent.
The inclusion of consent in the 2015 HPE policy is credited to two young women, Lia Valente and Tessa Hill (and Kathleen Wynne too, I suppose, but I like it when kids exercise agency, so there it is). I had the pleasure to watch these two bad ass feminists speak at a conference at the University of Western, Ontario a couple of years ago. They inspired me. The students created a 20-minute documentary on rape culture as part of a media studies program in 2015 after their shock over Ontario’s 1998 HPE document’s lack of conversation about the topic. The students argued that omitting consent issues from the curriculum means kids “don’t respect their partner’s boundaries and they don’t know how to have safe sex” (CBC News, 2015). In December of 2015, they launched the We Give Consent campaign aiming to get consent made part of Ontario curriculum. Their petition to include consent in the curriculum received over 40,000 signatures and media attention across Canada (CBC News, 2015). Premier Wynne arranged a meeting to consult with the young people after hearing them on the CBC’s Metro Morning and informed them that the topic would be included in the 2015 curriculum. A beautiful back story. Fast forward to this week…
I have to say; I am appalled by the removal of this curriculum. I also just don’t get it. Are we not in the midst of a shocking ‘me too’ movement? A generation of women coming forward after years of harboring truths about sexual misconduct at the hands of those in power? The mental anguish these women must have endured over the years brings me to tears. So I ask; what if their teachers had stood at the front of the classroom and given them an unbiased perspective about saying ‘no,’ about respecting their own and others boundaries, about how their bodies worked and about gender existing on a beautiful continuum of acceptance? Better yet, what if this same lesson was delivered to their perpetrators? Their pasts might look very different.
A common theme in social justice uprisings is that one story, one protest, and one conversation can shift an ideology, even slightly. Eventually, these conversations form a larger movement that leads to thousands of people marching down Yonge Street, as they did when Trump came into power. I marched proudly in this protest. These conversations eventually lead to policy and curriculum reform and larger shifts in the collective consciousness of a country, a continent. To remove such policies that stand on foundations such as these is offensive, to say the least. I hope you will consider signing the petition (link posted below). Our kids need these lessons.