breaking news

Magazine Covers

Magazine Covers

Magazine Covers

Magazine Covers

Rally in Ottawa targets rollback of Ontario sex-education curriculum

July 16th, 2018 | by Richard Paul
Rally in Ottawa targets rollback of Ontario sex-education curriculum




Young and old, queer and straight, they gathered under the shade of trees at Ottawa’s human-rights monument to rally loudly against the new Ontario government’s rollback on the province’s modernized sex-education curriculum.

All had their own reasons for spending a Sunday afternoon chanting and condemning the Ford government’s return to a 1998 curriculum that pre-dates social media, same-sex marriage laws and clear consent.

In a particularly moving address to the 200-strong crowd, Amanda Jetté Knox shared the story of her daughter, who after coming out as transgender was subjected to unbearable ridicule at school and bullying online. Some classmates called her awful names and thought the girl had some kind of sickness, her mother told the crowd at the Elgin Street monument.

“She felt lost,” her mother explained.

Amanda Jetté Knox speaks to the crowd gathered at Sunday’s rally. Patrick Doyle/Postmedia PATRICK DOYLE/ OTT

Jetté Knox, a writer and LGBTQ advocate, homeschooled her daughter for a bit. When she returned to class in 2017, some teachers had already started teaching the new curriculum and she was welcomed with open arms. Classmates used the right pronouns and the experience was overwhelmingly positive because she was surrounded by students who finally understood her daughter, Jetté Knox said.

She firmly credits the since-repealed curriculum for turning around her daughter’s nightmare situation.

She told the crowd that she had become terrified that students across Ontario would no longer be taught a modernized curriculum. She called on all parents to push school staff to continue to teach a modernized curriculum.

Christopher Jennings, 24, held a placard saying, “Keep kids safe. Teaching consent saves lives.”

Jennings graduated high school in 2012 and said the sex education he received was vastly inadequate.

“These conversations about continuing and expressed consent need to be included in the sex-education curriculum,” he said.

Newly-elected Ottawa-Centre MPP Joel Harden called on educators to teach the modern curriculum in defiance of the Ford government. Sounding as if he was still campaigning for office, Harden called on everyone to commit to organizing at the grass-roots level and directed them to spread the word in a way that not only pre-dated the Internet, but also social media: good old-fashioned door-knocking.

“We need to take the message to the doorsteps,” Harden said, encouraging supporters to start knocking on the doors of local ridings held by Conservative MPPS, including Lisa MacLeod, the minister of Children, Community and Social Services.


“We need a new generation of community organizers,” said Harden, who mentioned, but did not detail the sad story of Kanata’s Jamie Hubley, the openly-gay figure skater who killed himself after years of bullying at school.

The PC government is consulting to see how it will replace the curriculum that has been repealed amid outrage by social conservatives.

Ford repeatedly pledged to repeal and replace the curriculum during the spring election campaign, saying parents had not been consulted enough.

The newer sex-ed curriculum sparked controversy, particularly among social conservatives, when the Liberal government introduced it three years ago.

It was the first time the curriculum had been updated since 1998, and it included warnings about online bullying and sexting that were not in the previous version. However, protesters zeroed in on discussions of same-sex marriage, gender identity and masturbation.

Police separate two groups at a protest to changes in Ontario’s sex-ed curriculum on Sunday. Patrick Doyle/Postmedia PATRICK DOYLE / OTT

Ontario’s two largest teachers’ unions have opposed the decision to repeal the 2015 curriculum, saying parents and educators were consulted extensively before the curriculum was updated.

Leave a Reply