ARPA Canada sent a statement to the media this morning in response to the announcement from the Minister of Education on planned curriculum changes in Ontario. So many of you have engaged on this issue and we thank you for your engagement! We will complete a full review of the curriculum when it is released.
On March 15th, Ontario Minister of Education Lisa Thompson announced some much-needed improvements to the provincial curriculum. During the press conference, Minister Thompson addressed some of the concerns Ontario parents had with the previous Wynne-era curriculum, particularly about the sexual health curriculum.
André Schutten, Director of Law & Policy at the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada, applauded the re-engagement and involvement of parents in this curriculum.
Parental Rights Recognized
“As a constitutional lawyer, I’ve been tracking a worrying trend of provincial governments running rough-shod over parental rights and responsibilities,” he said. “Education is a parental responsibility. And it was encouraging to hear the Minister recognize parents as the primary educators of their children and we were encouraged to hear the Minister discuss the importance of parents knowing who is teaching what to their children. The Minster’s assurance that the curriculum will be available for parents to see and opt to take their children out of any material they deem inappropriate is a welcome change.”
“While the curriculum will still cover subject matter that is extremely sensitive and private in nature, we are pleased to hear that the Minister has raised the age that kids will be exposed to certain concepts,” stated Schutten. “When the government opened consultations with Ontarians, we encouraged parents to communicate five key components that we wanted to see in the curriculum. We appreciate that the school curriculum can always be improved, but we are thankful that Minister Thompson listened to parents across the province who were concerned about the age appropriateness of some of the sexual health material.”
Curriculum Modified to Address Online Safety Concerns
ARPA Canada also noted the focus on safety specifically around social media and the internet and hopes that this translates into protecting high schools from the danger of human trafficking and from being exposed to pornographic material online.
“The reality is that our public high schools, right here in Canada, are used to recruit sex-trafficking victims,” said Schutten. “We need to focus on protecting our high school students. Our hope is that as the curriculum continues to develop, it will also address the damaging effects of pornography on the developing brain.”
More Improvements Needed
Schutten acknowledged that the curriculum is not going to be perfect. “There will still be parents upset about what is in the curriculum. But really, no curriculum will override the fact that parents need to take primary responsibility for their child’s education. My hope is that parents who were anticipating greater changes will remain involved with their children’s education and respectfully engage with teachers, administrators, and school boards to address any ongoing concerns.”
ARPA Canada notes that keeping certain concepts from the Wynne curriculum is concerning especially when it comes to how gender theory is taught. “Gender identity ideology is a new and experimental social concept. Any scientific testing done to date has contradicted the claims this theory makes. Keeping gender ideology in the curriculum legitimizes something that can have profoundly destructive consequences on our children,” Schutten noted. “The fact that this concept remains in the public-school curriculum should act as an encouragement to Christian parents to have open communication with their kids and proactively teach this topic with the correct data.”
ARPA Canada went across the country last fall teaching about gender identity to Christian high school students and wrote a comprehensive policy report on the subject, available here.