In September 2010, Ontario children from grades one to eight will have a new physical and health education curriculum. The provincially-mandated program includes comprehensive information on healthy eating habits, maintaining a physically active lifestyle, and reducing the spread of common illness through personal hygiene.
The curriculum also contains detailed anti-bullying information. Children learn that bodies come in different shapes and sizes, that people come from different cultural and religious backgrounds, and that not all families look the same. They also learn that not everyone grows up to be heterosexual or sticks to their birth gender, and that none of these aforementioned characteristics give them the right to hurt or discriminate against anyone.
Children in older grades learn about sexual health, contraception and issues of consent around sexual activity. While the curriculum stresses abstinence as the best option, students are given information about what to do if they decide to have sex as well as the potential consequences of choosing not to follow those practices.
A number of parents, particularly those in the Catholic school system (which is also mandated to teach the curriculum) are upset. The predictably bigoted Life Site News (a Catholic website) states that "the curriculum's revision is the attempt to instill a sense that homosexuality and transgenderism are perfectly normal." It is unclear whether parents in Ontario will be able to withdraw their children from classes where information that violates their religious teachings is presented, as is the case in Alberta after Bill 44 was passed last year. The underlying fear in all this, if I understand the bigots correctly, is that if kids learn that queers exist then they'll turn out to be queer.
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