It’s the middle of summer and we’re supposed to be lazing at the beach, mindless book in hand, with not a care in the world. We should definitely not be thinking about school, but thanks to Ontario’s new Premier Doug Ford, we can’t think about anything else.
In the middle of summer vacation, Education Minister Lisa Thompson announced that the sex education curriculum would be removed from Ontario schools and replaced with the 1998 curriculum.
Three years ago the Liberal government revamped the sex education curriculum for Ontario public schools, and included new and relevant information, including topics related to body positivity, consent, homophobia, sexting, and online bullying.
As a woman born in the late 1980’s I was taught from this twenty-year-old curriculum. All of my own memories about sex education are framed around this curriculum, and now my own school-aged children will be taught from this exact same curriculum, at least until our new government comes up with a new updated version.
When I was twelve my mom purchased our first ever Dell desktop. It took me a few weeks to type the word “sex” into Google. I will forever be traumatized by the images that I saw. My first ever introduction to sex.
When I was fourteen, I signed up for an online dating site by entering that I was eighteen. By the time I was fifteen I was meeting people in real life, putting myself into dangerous situations and exercising zero caution.
In high school I became sexually active, and most of the time, I did not use protection. I did not understand the concept of consent, never having heard the word until I was married. I was verbally pressured and manipulated into sex multiple times, and didn’t understand how to use my voice.
I lived through the sex education curriculum, and it did nothing for me. I have zero recollection of sex education beyond watching a movie of a baby coming out of a woman’s vagina, and putting a condom on a banana while giggling hysterically.
Now that I’ve revealed all this super sensitive information about myself, I may as well come out with one final detail. I am a Christian, and in high school I believed that saving yourself for marriage was important, if not crucial, for leading a “good Christian” lifestyle.
I now am the mother of three daughters, and my husband is clergy in a church, and many of “my people” are happy that the sex education curriculum has been repealed.
I am not one of them.
My mother was a single mom, and the few times she talked to me about sex it was awkward and uncomfortable. I didn’t have a dad, but you can bet I wouldn’t have been chatting about sex with him either. I was raised in a loving home, but I did not receive sex education there. And I can bet that many children today won’t be either.
In a classroom of my peers, with teachers who were inviting and encouraging, I would have benefited from information about sensitive material online (like pornography), safe online dating, consent, acceptance of all people, different types of families, and pretty much all of the information available in the 2015 curriculum. And I was born in 1989.
Imagine how much more important this information is to children born in 2012, like my soon-to-be first grader? These kids are being raised in a technology-driven world, and they’re being taught from a curriculum that was written when their parents were children, the same year Google was founded and Windows 98 was developed.
If I could tell my young teen self anything it would be that my Christian ideals were simply that - ideals. I would tell her that she’s not dirty because she’s had sex, and she’s not a bad Christian because of the teenaged choices she made. I would talk to her about consent, and that she can use her powerful voice to say no. I would let her know that a boy that tries to pressure and manipulate her into sex is not engaging in consenting sex with her, and that what we now call rape in 2018.
The 2015 sex education curriculum covers a wide range of topics, all that are imperative to our children’s well-being today, and would have literally saved lives twenty years ago. The funny thing is, if I had been taught about consent and other important topics included in the 2015 curriculum, I can guarantee I’d have had a lot less sex as a teen. Interesting how that works.