The differences between Ontario’s interim sex-ed curriculum and 2015′s
Just two weeks before classes start, the Ontario provincial government has given elementary school teachers a new interim elementary health education curriculum, leaving many scrambling to figure out what they can and can’t teach.
The document stresses the importance of sexual abstinence, contains no references to consent and makes no mention of scientific names for genitalia – the words “penis” or “vagina” appear nowhere in the update. The parts of the interim plan that deal with sexual education are largely the same as the last health curriculum update, from 1998.
The following is a list of some of the differences between the sections related to sexual education in the interim and 2015 editions.
In the 2015 curriculum, students learn the names of different body parts, including genitalia, using scientific terminology (e.g., penis, vagina) as well as basic personal hygiene by the end of Grade 1.
In the interim version, by the end of grade one, students learn the names of “major” body parts, without using the names of any genitalia.
LGBT, gender identity and expression
The introduction of 2015 curriculum says teachers should always consider the needs of transgender and gender-non-conforming students.
In Grade 3, it teaches children that differences make people unique and to respect people with different skin colours, physical abilities, cultural values, gender identities, sexual orientations and so on.
In Grade 6, students learn to challenge stereotypes about gender roles, sexual orientation and gender expression, and how factors like gender identity, body image, mental health, and so on, can affect someone’s self-concept.
In Grade 7, students learn about physical and psychological factors related to decisions about sexual health, such as gender identity and sexual orientation.
In Grade 8, students learn about different gender identities such as two-spirit, transgender, transsexual and intersex, and how factors such as sexual orientation and gender identity can influence people’s decisions about sex, and that gay-straight student alliances can be sought out as support services.
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In the interim version, students learn about similarities and differences between themselves and others, such as body size and gender, in Grade 2. This version does mention gender identity in its introduction but only to flag it as a potentially challenging topic to teach. The introduction also states that students of all gender identities should feel comfortable and free from harassment. This version does not specifically mention that the topic of gender identity be taught in any grades. The word “transgender” is mentioned once, in the glossary, using the non-preferred term “transgendered.”
First Nations, Métis, Inuit
In the 2015 curriculum, students learn the basic stages of human development in Grade 2, including a teacher prompt about “teachings from different cultures, including First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures, about the cycles of birth, life and death.”
In Grade 6, students learn how to build healthier relationships with others and themselves using skills based on First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultural teachings.
In Grade 8, students learn about the two-spirit gender identity, which is used by First Nations people to refer to someone with both feminine and masculine spirits.
In the interim version, students in Grade 4 learn about teachings of First Nations, Métis, or Inuit cultures to strengthen their relationships.
In the 2015 version, a teacher prompt urges Grade 7 students to be clear in their own minds about what they are comfortable doing, including delaying sexual activity. A prompt in Grade 8 notes that abstinence is the only way to be 100-per-cent certain about avoiding sexually transmitted infections or unwanted pregnancy.
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In the interim version, students learn in Grade 7 about abstinence as it relates to healthy sexuality, and in Grade 8 about “the importance of abstinence.” The curriculum’s introduction instructs teachers to portray abstinence as a “positive choice.”
In the 2015 version, students learn in Grade 6 that consent is defined as “a clear ‘yes’ ”, and that anything else, including silence or uncertainty, is not consent. In Grade 7, students learn the importance of clear communication with a romantic partner about all aspects of sex, including consent. Consent is taught again in Grade 8.
The interim version does not mention the concept of consent.
In the 2015 curriculum, sharing private sexual photos of others online is described in Grade 5 as “unacceptable” and “illegal.” Asking for sexual pictures or making sexual comments online is also discouraged.
In Grade 6, a teacher prompt describes relationships kids might see online as “not always accurate.” Ending a relationship online, it says, “may not be a sensitive approach.”
In the interim version, the potential of exposure to online sexual predators is introduced in a teacher prompt in Grade 4. In Grade 7, the risks of sexting, as outlined by a prompt, include messages becoming public, being “manipulated or misinterpreted,” or costing students future relationships or jobs. The 2015 version adds negative effects to the victim’s well-being to that list.
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Both curriculae teach students about how negative actions can affect other people in Grade 5, but the 2015 version makes specific mention of online sexual harassment.
Both curriculae teach students about risks associated with using the internet in Grade 4, but in the 2015 version, “sexual predators” is changed to “people who ask you for sexual pictures.”
In the 2015 curriculum, teachers are prompted in Grade 6 to explain wet dreams, vaginal lubrication and masturbation as normal, if asked. “Exploring one’s body by touching or masturbating is something that many people do and find pleasurable. It is common and is not harmful and is one way of learning about your body,” it reads.
The interim version does not mention masturbation.
My prose, was made into a song by my friend George Robertson, and Paintings by my good friend, artist Michal Madison, and the video was put together by my good friend the late Debbie Naylor Cox. We are all being a voice for child abuse…Please share to get the word out there.
Child Abuse Awareness and Sexual Assault Prevention video to show how we must speak out **Not all of these paintings of children are abused children, happy to be able to say. There are a few that are very happy, well taken care of and loved children. We do all we can to protect the privacy of those who are being abused.” All the beautiful Artwork belong to my friend Michal Madison..www.MichalMadisonArt.net/galleries.html… Words by Mary Graziano copyrighted Music and song sung by George Robertson. video put together by Debbie Naylor Cox I do own the rights to the Video and the Song
Flashbacks take us back to the past. It takes us to a place where we feel trapped. We envision the trauma that affected us so much that to us it feels so very real, as if we are reliving the abuse all over again. Visually, we see the abuse happening, we feel it in every fiber of our being, we hurt all over again.
The demons have woken up, taking over our minds again, recapturing us, removing us from the present and again taking away our self-esteem that we had started to build up.
Scared, and defeated, we often feel that sometimes we can’t come back to the present quick enough. We stay frozen, reliving over and over all the abuse that stole our innocence, or in the case of Domestic Abuse stole so much of a person’s self respect and self-worth, leaving them feeling “nothing.”
Our self-worth and self-esteem have been destroyed, leaving us vulnerable to the demons who destroyed it. We often cannot break free of the flashbacks, whether it was one flashback in particular, or more than one.
We need to realize that the flashbacks that consumed us are not going to hurt us any more. We need to let it come, realize it is there, and then say “Ok, you can now leave, you can’t hurt me any more, I am now free of you. You were my demon, but now you are NOTHING.”
Remember to always be kind to yourself as you are healing, Remind yourself that you are worth so much, that you are a loving person, a beautiful person, one who has survived abuse, one who is now free from the abuse that invaded your body, mind and soul,,,,.Don’t let the demons who abused you win…make them small, so that they can’t hurt you any more..You are the winner, because you came through the abuse whether it was from childhood abuse, or Domestic abuse, we are all winners, we are all SURVIVORS!!
Mary Graziano ©2012 edited November 18, 2018
THE FORGOTTEN CHILDREN
We need to be the voices for children everywhere,
alone, abandoned, with bruises, it seems
like no-one cares.
Their abusers keep them silent with threats,
their bodies shake, feelings kept inside themselves
their smiles, they always fake.
Words that hurt so deeply destroys their self-esteem,
shame they feel inside themselves, in their minds i
s where they scream.
Secrets so deep & never to be told they live
it every day, these are the forgotten children
let’s scream out, let’s shout & pray.
Pray that we can save them from a life of
horrendous abuse, to set them free & guide them
it’s up to us, there’s no excuse.
Each day one child will die alone from their wounds
inside and out, scars so deep, with bodies broke
from the abuse, there is no doubt.
Remember all children everywhere, protection
is what they need, broken, alone so frightened
from the abusers dirty deeds.
I write these words, for all children small
for that little girl in me, silenced then,
but not any more, I will shout out to
help set them free.
Prose by Mary Graziano © 2012
Watercolour painting by my
incredible friend Michal Madison www.michalmadisonart.com