Saturday, April 18, 2015

"The Well Informed Parent" and The Uninformed Student

1950s Sex Education LP Recording
I was reading up on some of the groups that participated in the April 14th My Child My Choice protest against the Ontario's 2015 Health and Physical Education Curriculum. A group calling themselves The Well Informed Parent caught my eye. From their website: 

"We are parents representing parents. We have drawn on the considerable skill sets of many parents - such as educators, lawyers, concerned parents and medical professionals. That way we can be well equipped to make informed decisions in regards to our children's education and well-being."

To this end, The Well Informed Parent has come up with alternatives to contested components of Human Development and Sexual Health  and other sections of the curriculum at various grades. To summarize, here are the most hotly contest contested components, as reported back in 2010 by Kathryn Blaze Carlson for the National Post:
Grade 1: Identify body parts, including genitalia (penis, testicles, vagina, vulva).
Grade 3: Identify the characteristics of healthy relationships (i.e.: accepting differences, being inclusive), describe how visible differences and invisible differences make each person unique (i.e.: gender identity, sexual orientation)."
Grade 6: Discuss the development of a person’s sense of self (i.e.: stereotypes, cultural and gender identity), discuss homophobia and gender stereotyping. The curriculum suggests a teacher say: “Having erections, wet dreams and vaginal lubrication are normal things that happen as a result of physical changes with puberty. Exploring your body by touching or masturbating is something that many people will do and find pleasurable. It is common and not harmful and is one way of learning about your body.”
Grade 8: Identify and explain factors that can affect an individual’s decision about sexual activity (i.e.: curiosity, acceptance of gender identity and sexual orientation, religious beliefs), demonstrate an understanding of gender identity (i.e.: male, female, two-spirited, transgendered, transsexual, intersex). 
Source: Kathryn Blaze Carlson, The National Post.
Another element of the curriculum consistently ignored by the critics and overlooked in press reports is this one: 
Grade 7: Explain the importance of agreeing with a partner to delay sexual activity, (i.e.: choosing to abstain from having vaginal or anal intercourse, choosing to abstain from having oral sex), identify common STDs.
Here's what The Well Informed Parent (TWIP) came up with:

Grade 1 -- Privates

Basically, according to their reckoning, the words "penis" and "vagina" are acceptable; "vulva" and "testicles" are not. 

"Girls’ genitalia are internal and hidden and it would disturb both genders to talk about it at this age, especially that they are still discovering and exploring other systems of their bodies," they argue.

Grade 3 -- Don't Say Gay

Note: Throughout its suggested corrections to the curriculum, TWIP wants all references to gender identity and sexual orientation pushed back to the tenth grade. 

"Students need to have a profound understanding of their bodies and their feelings in order to develop a clear picture about gender identity and sexual orientation. Students will be more successful in recognizing their gender identity and sexual orientation in grade 10 when they are mature enough and better able to understand themselves."

The unit is about differences -- visible and invisible -- not about getting 8-year-olds to identify their gender and sexuality. This is an opportunity to contextualize what they already see around them and to validate families they know in the school and the community. 
Delaying this conversation to the tenth grade is beyond absurd. In discussing different families, children themselves will reference LGBT family members and friends.

Grade 4 -- "Sexual Pictures"?

This one caught me by surprise: Modify the phrase of 'I shouldn’t share my password…' to include also not sharing sexual pictures of one-self and a warning on the dangers and ramifications of sharing such information can have on the student’s privacy and life.

I don't disagree, but what constitutes a sexual picture? My first thought is that if a fourth-grader is in possession of a sexual picture of himself or herself, I need to be calling the CAS. Ironically, this instruction leaves the teacher in charge of telling children what would be sexual, when no discussion of sex or sexuality has taken place thus far.

A huge can of worms.

Grade 4 -- Dealing with abuse

From the Curriculum: P. 141 - C1.3 Teacher prompt: “In cases of abuse, it is not uncommon for the person being abused to know the person who is abusing them. If a friend told you that she had a secret and that she was being abused, how could you help?”

Student: “I would tell my friend to ask an adult that she trusts so that she can get help. I would listen and be there to support my friend.”

This is sound advice in my belief. If the alleged abuser is a family member, someone known to the family, or a teacher, the child must decide who is safe to talk to.

The Well Informed Parent group disagrees (emphasis mine): 
“Trusted adult” or “adult that she trusts” is unclear. Who judges whether an adult is trustworthy or not? Certainly not a 10 year old. We ask to remove “trusted adult” and replace it with “parents and teachers”.
With young students it’s recommended to be very specific and clear when it comes to the word “trust” and “trusted person”, we need to be sensitive to the possibility that students may have different meanings for the same word or different words for the same meaning.
I use the phrase "an adult you trust" all the time when discussing matters of safety with children. That comes with a discussion of why a child might find a specific adult trustworthy and who those trustworthy adults might be, including parents and teachers. As for sensitivity to how children define words, they can be very literal. There are other staff in a school in whom a child may place trust with sensitive information -- everyone from the secretary to the guidance counsellor.

Grade 4 -- More than friends

From the Curriculum: P. 141 - C1.5 Teacher prompt: “What can change socially as you start to develop physically?” 

Student: “Relationships with friends can change, because sometimes people start being interested in different things at different times. Some people start ‘liking’ others. They want to be more than ‘just friends’ and become interested in going out. Sometimes people treat you as if you are older than you actually are because of how you look. Sometimes classmates, friends, or family make comments or tease you about the changes.”

TWIP wants the underlined section of the student response deleted. They explain:
The expectation is referring to “dating” when it mentions “going out”. A 10 year old, by Law, is supposed to be under supervision as they are still children. Dating is not age-appropriate yet and in conflict with many cultures.
"Dating," as an activity some youngster might, or might be allowed to, engage in is not mentioned until the sixth grade. TWIP says that children in the fourth grade must be supervised -- essentially correct, in that children under the age of ten cannot be left home alone. Children in this age range ride public transit, walk to school, or to other locations in the community.

This discussion is about how children see their relationships changing; it is not a prescription for dating. Some children may want to date at this age -- and the date might well be walking home from school together -- but the prerogative of parents to put the kibosh on dating until a later age is not being undermined.
This period is still a latent period, and during this period, the libido interests are suppressed. The development of the ego and superego contribute to this period of calm. This stage begins around the time that children enter into school and become more concerned with peer relationships, hobbies, and other interests. The latent period is a time of exploration in which the sexual energy is still present, but it is directed into other areas such as intellectual pursuits and social interactions. This stage is important in the development of social and communication skills and self-confidence.
For reasons unknown, TWIP is now quoting Freud's Stages of Psychosexual Development, and without attribution. Since we know that children are experiencing puberty earlier than in previous generations, these assertions can be challenged.
When we introduce 10 year olds to “dating”, we encourage them, unintentionally, to withdraw from any social activity and focus on a partner, which will affect their social development in a negative way.
Having the conversation about something children think they want to do is not encouraging them to do it. In these moments, I find myself saying, "This is a discussion you will have to have with your parents."
When we normalise dating at 10 years old, they will be more tempted to start having sex 2 years later at the age of 12.
A kooky conclusion built on a faulty premise. Parents will decide if their kids can date. Likely, most parents of children in grade four will discourage it. Some parents may elect to accommodate it through supervised group outings. But it was never about dating in the first place -- it was about children's feelings about their relationships.

This kind of thinking is very similar to the bizarre reaction detractors had to the issue of consent in the curriculum. The Ottawa Citizen's David Reevely summed it up this way:
If they teach you in gym to climb a rope using both hands and your knees, they’re also teaching you how to fall and hurt yourself by switching to your elbows and one ear when you’re 15 feet up. In some sort of abstract philosophical sense, instruction in a particular area is, indirectly, instruction in its opposite.
In a practical sense, though, how far gone does a person have to be to think The premier wants to teach six-year-olds how to say yes to sex?
Source: The Ottawa Citizen.
In this section, TWIP also quotes the Education Act of Ontario as it pertains to Judeo-Christian values: 

Judeo-Christian Values, as a concept, seemed clearer in my parents' day or mine for that matter, when Christianity and Judaism were seen as the dominant religious belief systems of Ontario. In a school system that serves Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Wiccans, and Atheists, it has become more opaque. Further, so many people ascribe to belief systems quite apart from religion -- conservative, liberal, libertarian, feminist, queer.

In any event, the clause is not about curriculum; it's about the personal conduct of the teacher and the example he or she sets. Under human rights and general law, much of it would now be difficult and unnecessary to enforce against teachers called before the College for misconduct. Child safety issues would take precedence -- as they should.

Grade 5 -- Whose feelings are these, anyway?

From the Curriculum: P. 158 - C2.4 describe emotional and interpersonal stresses related to puberty (e.g., questions about changing bodies and feelings, adjusting to changing relationships, crushes and more intense feelings, conflicts between personal desires and cultural teachings and practices), and identify strategies that they can apply to manage stress, build resilience, and enhance their mental health and emotional wellbeing (e.g., being active, writing feelings in a journal, accessing information about their concerns, taking action on a concern, talking to a trusted peer or adult, breathing deeply, meditating, seeking cultural advice from elders). 

From TWIP: C2.4 describe emotional and interpersonal stresses related to puberty (e.g., questions about changing bodies and feelings, adjusting to changing relationships, crushes, trying to align personal desires with cultural teachings and practices and religious beliefs), and identify strategies that they can apply to manage stress, build resilience, and enhance their mental health and emotional wellbeing (e.g., being active, writing feelings in a journal, accessing information about their concerns, taking action on a concern, talking to my parents and my friends, breathing deeply, meditating, seeking cultural advice from elders).

According to TWIP's feedback and analysis:
The word “conflict” means opposition or clash and is a strong negative word. This is the age for cultural identity development and the strong sense of belonging. It is better to use a positive word like “aligning personal desires with cultural teachings”.
It's a strong word, and sometimes it is a negative word by necessity. Children often experience a dissonance between what parents expect or believe and what seems to go on around them. More than once in my career, children have come to me in tears because their parents have admonished them not to play with a child of a particular race or religion. There's no re-alligning for me to do in this instance; nor is it helpful or productive for me to criticize the parents' views. What I can do in that situation is acknowledge that the child's choice of friends is not a matter of school rules -- which take precedence at school -- and that the child can make choices at school.
The issue of “trusted peer or adult” was covered previously. We want to encourage children to open discussion with their parents.
Some parents refuse to talk about certain matters with their children. TWIP goes on to discuss the importance of parent engagement in student success. I couldn't agree more, but all of that discussion has to do with parents being engaged with what is taking place at school, not micromanaging it from afar, as this document proposes to do. If children are experiencing conflict, that's what they're experiencing.

Grade 5 -- Don't say chill

On drug usage, TWIP wants the word "relaxation" removed from a discussion of short term effects because it promotes drug use. At this point, it becomes abundantly clear the authors do not realize the curriculum guide is not a text book or a lecture. It helps the teacher frame the unit. 

When the teacher directs students to research materials on substances -- books, websites -- the students will find the same information because it is a fact.

Here, the role of the teacher is to contextualize facts, not hide them -- because they will come up.

Grade 5 -- No penetration

Underlined below is what TWIP would like to see removed from the grade five unit:

P. 155 - C1.4 Teacher: “The testicles are glands within the scrotum that produce sperm and hormones, beginning at puberty. After sperm develops in the testicles, it can travel through the epididymis until it reaches the vas deferens where it is stored until ejaculation occurs. During ejaculation, the prostate gland releases a liquid that mixes with the sperm from the vas deferens to make semen, which then leaves the body through the urethra. Fertilization can occur when the penis is in the vagina, sperm is ejaculated, and the sperm and egg connect. Babies can also be conceived by having the sperm and egg connect using assisted reproductive technologies. What is the purpose of sperm production?”

They explain (emphasis mine):
Remove the phrase “when the penis is in the vagina, sperm is ejaculated”. This phrase is very graphic and unnecessarily detailed, especially that the topic of reproduction is also covered in the science curriculum. Most 11 year olds are not ready for this information yet. In this context, they only need to know that fertilization occurs when the sperm and egg connect.
To say that "most eleven-year-olds are not ready for this information" is a sweeping generalization. In 1998, when the previous curriculum was released, eleven-year-olds didn't have access to smartphones, tablets, wifi and streaming media. What we want our kids to know or think they know is not the issue. In my day, it was one kid telling jokes and stories in the schoolyard; today it's multiple kids with an iPhone. Kids today are seeing what I had to picture in my mind's eye forty-five years ago.

I cannot help but throw my hands up in disgust at this suggestion because this is the exact same lesson I was given in 1971. The sperm and the egg, but not the penis and the vagina. That's not a lesson in health or science; it's a moral obfuscation. Even then, you could tell kids in the room were thinking, "Oh for crying out loud, spill the beans."

TWIP goes on to cite a three articles about youth and exposure to sex in popular media...
...that have nothing to do with sexual health education. 

Nothing at all. 

All three reference media -- including popular media like television and adult entertainment (pornography, if you must) -- and their potential impact on youngsters' attitudes about sex and relationships. The third article, from the US National Library of Medicine, explains that entertainment media can override the lessons taught in health, and further education is needed:
Innovative interventions could identify creative ways of generating doubt in the minds of young people as to the veracity of the sex-related media messages they receive. One way of doing this may be to include media literacy in sexuality education programming, whereby young people learn to analyze and evaluate media portrayals of sex.5,3032
The nicest way I can put this is that the citation of these three articles is feeble and misleading. Did they think no one would click on the links and read the articles? Or did they not understand the material they were linking to?

Grade 5 -- Don't say gay

I've bolded the the phrase TWIP wants removed:

P. 159 - C2.4 Student: “Things I can control include whether I have a positive or negative attitude about things, how I show respect for myself and others, whether I ask for help when I need it, whether I am involved in activities at school and in my community, actions I take, whether I am open to new ideas, and whether I make my own decisions about things or let myself be influenced by others. Things I cannot control include where I was born, who is in my family, how much money my family has, and personal characteristics such as my skin colour, hair colour, whether I am male or female, my gender identity, sexual orientation, and overall body shape and structure. I could have a learning disability, a physical disability, or a health issue. All of these things are a part of who I am. I cannot control these things, but I can control what I do and how I act.”

As with the grade reference to "gender identity and sexual orientation," the authors quote psychologist Dr Ellen Braaten for reasons I can't quite fathom. Dr Braaten seems to be suggesting  the existence of observable, developmental patterns of gender identity and expression throughout a young person's development. Her analysis suggests fluidity.

In addition to reiterating that sexual orientation and gender identity are tenth grade concepts -- based on what I don't know -- the TWIP authors advise that,
"It is not yet scientifically proven that gender identity or sexual orientation are things we cannot control."

Yeah, it has, which is why conversion therapies have fallen into disfavour among medical professionals -- save for a few outliers -- and are being outlawed in many jurisdictions.

To suggest that gender identity and sexual orientation can be changed is to say that they ought to be. Again, it's hard to be nice, so I shan't try: That's homophobic, transphobic and ignorant. And we have a body count of LGBT kids who have suffered for that thinking.

Grade 5 -- Don't say gay

I don't need to tell you what TWIP wants taken out:

From the Curriculum: P. 157 - C2.2 Teacher prompt: “What strategies could you use in a situation where you were being harassed because of your sex, gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender expression, body shape, weight, or ability?”

Again, tenth-graders are entitled to have a conversation in class about how to address all forms of gender-based discrimination. Some body calls you a "fag" in the fifth grade?

Tough luck, kid.

There are a number of problems. A person does not need to be gay or bisexual, let alone say they are, to be a target of homophobic bullying. Homophobic behaviour among young people can come a perception based on a stereotype. Personal interests, abilities or manner of dress that conflict with others' expectations can trigger homophobic harassment. I know this from experience, and I'm going to digress here to share it:

In 1972, I began my seventh grade year at an all-boys Catholic academy, where I would remain until grade thirteen graduation. I was an outlier: non-Catholic, working mom, full-time mature student father. I was good at music theatre and completely unskilled and disinterested in hockey -- in school that had an indoor arena and storied reputation in the sport. Heard the words, "fag," "homo," "gay boy," "queer," "fairy" every day for my first two years there. None of this was ever addressed in classroom instruction, nor did staff intervene. 

TWIP's rationale for omitting these terms and pushing them back to the tenth grade: "Same as above."

Grade 6 -- We never joke about cannabis

Bolded below is the section TWIP wants removed:

Student: “Cannabis can change the way you see and feel things – distances can seem shorter or longer than they really are, and things that are serious can seem funny. Larger amounts can lead to feelings of losing control, panic, or confusion. Physical effects include red eyes, dry mouth, a higher heart rate, and a feeling of hunger. Using cannabis often and for a longer time can lead to being physically dependent on it. Then, when people stop using cannabis, they can have withdrawal symptoms, which can include feeling irritable, anxious, or nauseated, not having an appetite, or not being able to sleep well.” 

Their rationale: 
Such phrase is very inviting, especially to vulnerable children that might want to escape the seriousness of their less-than-ideal reality.

Isn't that the point of the lesson? The use and abuse of substances is a mental health issue. Understanding the desire to numb out feelings is key to understanding addiction and related behaviours.

Grade 6 -- Don't say Gender Identity

From the curriculum: P. 172 - C1.3 identify factors that affect the development of a person’s self-concept (e.g., environment, evaluations by others who are important to them, stereotypes, awareness of strengths and needs, social competencies, cultural and gender identity, support, body image, mental health and emotional well-being, physical abilities).

Yep, move it to grade ten. 

This calls to mind Charles McVety's recent comment that gender identity theory is a topic suitable for "graduate or post-graduate" study. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that Mr McVety may not be the best judge of what should take place in graduate instruction.

But there's another problem, too.

Critics of transgenderism, a term used to demean trans people, never tire of pointing out that the small percentage of people who are transgender is an argument for not attending to it in class. But the discussion is about gender (not transgender) and sexual orientation (not homosexuality), and 100% of children in the classroom have a gender and a sexual orientation that they are exploring and attempting to understand and define. That is not the same thing as having sex, or encouraging children to be sexually active.

Grade 6 -- If you don't stop, your teacher will be arrested

From the Curriculum: P. 175 - C2.5 Teacher prompt: “Things like wet dreams or vaginal lubrication are normal and happen as a result of physical changes with puberty. 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.

Their reasons for wanting the underlined cut:

On the science-ish side of things, they site the Women's Health magazine article: How a Guy's Masturbation Habits Can Affect Your Sex Life: A new study says certain solo sessions may be hurting his partner performance. The article also talks a bit about porn addiction, which, taken seriously, would make a good topic for sex ed.

But they've brought Googled legal arguments too:
Invitation to Sexual Touching (sections 152 and 153) - no one can invite a child under the age of 16 to touch himself/herself or them for a sexual purpose. The penalty for this offence is a mandatory minimum period of imprisonment of up to a maximum of 10 years”. “no one in a position of trust or authority over a 16 or 17 year old (for example, a teacher, religious leader, baby-sitter or doctor) or upon whom the young person is dependent, can touch any part of the body of the young person for a sexual purpose or invite that young person to touch himself/herself or them for a sexual purpose. The penalty for this offence is a mandatory minimum period of imprisonment of up to a maximum of 10 years”.
TWIP isn't the first to try this argument, clearly meant to frighten teachers. The Group Protest to Stop or Revise SEX ED curriculum Start Sep 2015 posted this on their Facebook page months back prior to the February 24th protest at Queen's Park, which I blogged about here. Former TDSB Trustee Sam Sotiropoulos, who has inserted himself into the anti sex ed movement as defender of parental rights, tweeted much the same at the time.

Back in the day, teachers, preachers and parents warned adolescents off self-pleasuring by telling them stories of hairy palms and bad hearing. In the new millennium, their teachers will be sent to the hoosegow. 

Grade 7 -- Abstain, but don't talk about it

Ironically TWIP suggests taking the scissors to a unit on abstinence in order not to talk about what students might be abstinent from:

From the Curriculum: P. 195 - C1.3 explain the importance of having a shared understanding with a partner about the following: delaying sexual activity until they are older (e.g., choosing to abstain from any genital contact; choosing to abstain from having vaginal or anal intercourse; choosing to abstain from having oral-genital contact); the reasons for not engaging in sexual activity; the concept of consent and how consent is communicated; and, in general, the need to communicate clearly with each other when making decisions about sexual activity in the relationship.

Teacher prompt: “The term abstinence can mean different things to different people. People can also have different understandings of what is meant by having or not having sex. Be clear in your own mind about what you are comfortable or uncomfortable with. Being able to talk about this with a partner is an important part of sexual health. Having sex can be an enjoyable experience and can be an important part of a close relationship when you are older. But having sex has risks too, including physical risks like sexually transmitted infections – which are common and which can hurt you – and getting pregnant when you don’t want to. What are some of the emotional considerations to think about?”

Rationale? The same articles they used above about sexualizing children through media. They weren't relevant to the grade five discussion of penises and vaginas, and they're not relevant here either.

It gets worse. Seventh grade study of different sex acts, along with STI risks, gets a hatchet job from this group, along with a lecture about how different cultures view oral and anal sex. There's even a supporting paragraph about sodomy, with information cribbed from Wikipedia:
In some cultures, anal sex is considered sodomy. Sodomy law is a law that defines certain sexual acts as crimes. The precise sexual acts meant by the term sodomy are rarely spelled out in the law, but are typically understood by courts to include any sexual act deemed to be "unnatural" or immoral.[1] Sodomy typically includes anal sex, oral sex and bestiality.[2][3][4] In practice, sodomy laws have rarely been enforced against heterosexual couples. Parents of minor children do not approve exposing their children to this type of information. 
In another strand of the Grade Seven unit on Human Development and Sexual Health, they recommend, yet again that "sexual orientation and gender identity"  be stricken from the curriculum. In another, "conflicts" with parents are "misunderstandings." It's as if students don't have their own identity, and the curriculum should be written to placate some parents rather than educate all children.

Grade 8 -- Need advice? You're on your own.

The following is on the chopping block from the Curriculum: P. 215 - C1.4 identify and explain factors that can affect an individual’s decisions about sexual activity (e.g., previous thinking about reasons to wait, including making a choice to delay sexual activity and establishing personal limits; perceived personal readiness; peer pressure; desire; curiosity; self-concept; awareness and acceptance of gender identity and sexual orientation; physical or cognitive disabilities and possible associated assumptions; legal concerns; awareness of health risks, including risk of STIs and blood-borne infections; concerns about risk of pregnancy; use of alcohol or drugs; personal or family values; religious beliefs; cultural teachings; access to information; media messages), and identify sources of support regarding sexual health (e.g., a health professional [doctor, nurse, public health practitioner], a community elder, a teacher, a religious leader, a parent or other trusted adult, a reputable website)

Much of this is not surprising -- TWIP wants these items pushed to the tenth grade. Here's an interesting nugget from their rationale:

Parents are not in agreement that students should talk to a "religious leader" about their sexuality. Religious leaders expressed discomfort to be on the list.

I'll say it: A "religious leader" unwilling to counsel or at least refer a child on matters of sexuality and identity should find another job. 

I cannot imagine the sample of religious leaders they drew from. The ones I've known -- and I'm an atheist -- would never turn away from a child with a question.

Grade 8 -- Charles McVety's dreaded "six genders"

No bolding or underling here -- TWIP wants the following excised, and the rest moved to grade ten.

P. 216 - C1.5 demonstrate an understanding of gender identity (e.g., male, female, two-spirited, transgender, transsexual, intersex), gender expression, and sexual orientation (e.g., heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual), and identify factors that can help individuals of all identities and orientations develop a positive self-concept [PS]

Their rationale:
Why do 13 year olds need to “demonstrate an understanding” of such detailed information on a subject that is extremely controversial? It completely disregards the Judeo-Christian values that are described in section 264 of the Education Act.
Why? Because 100% of the children in that eighth grade classroom fall somewhere on a spectrum of gender, including cisgender and transgender, as well as other identifiers. One-hundred-percent of those children at straight, gay, bisexual, asexual, etc. -- meaning they all have a sexual orientation. And everyone of those children deserve to have their identities and their peers' identities validated.

The Judeo-Christian argument still won't float. If it did, it would have made Bill 13: The Accepting Schools Act and The Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy impossible.

There's another problem with the argument. People who invoke it are really saying that queer kids are against their religion. And that's an accommodation no school in this province should ever make.
If the “Equity and Inclusion policy” is to be carried out then it is quite sufficient to teach that we should always be respectful and understanding of all people of all faiths, cultures, orientations and genders.
One cannot be respectful of something that is not understood or acknowledged -- as evidenced by this curriculum rewrite.
This lengthy information of the sexual health part of the curriculum is worded in a way to suggest to unsuspecting minors that they don’t have a choice in their gender and orientation, which is a highly controversial statement that research has not proven to be true as of yet.
A misleading statement. The TWIP folks quote Dr Ellen Braaten twice -- whose analysis suggests fluidity of gender expression among adolescents. "Choice in gender and orientation" opens the door to endorsing conversion therapy, which take the form of bad psycho therapy or pray-the-gay-away. These are dangerous, discredited practices.
The 2012 Statistics Canada report indicates that 1.3% of all adult Canadians classify themselves as homosexuals, while 17.3% of all Canadians are immigrants. Would it not have more equitable value to teach lengthy paragraphs on being “inclusive and welcoming” to other cultures?

Good gracious! It's amazing how people are queer and nothing else. They can't be queer and also an immigrant or a person of faith. Government surveys of sexual orientation tend to get low numbers for people identifying as gay, lesbian or bisexual. This article discusses why government agencies get these numbers on sexual orientation surveys, and how they creep up closer to the traditionally used figure of ten percent when questions are asked differently.

The argument around numbers is invidious. By the same reasoning, we could determine that Jewish Canadians, at three percent of the population, aren't worthy of attention in the curriculum. This argument was employed in Ontario schools in the 1940s when leaders in the community sought accommodation for Jewish students and families. Anyhow, the curriculum is about health, not multiculturalism. LGBTQI kids, whatever their number. are at a higher risk for suicide and other mental health issues than most other cohorts of young people. They rival First Nations youth in this regard.


I've gone through this document in rather painstaking detail for good reason. Typically, the We Say No and Our Children Our Choice crowd are short on specifics, saying only that content "age-inappropriate." They all go to great pains to assure us that they are not homophobic or transphobic -- although so many sections of the curriculum have nothing to do with sexual orientation or gender identity per se -- they're just worried that their kids will be confused. So it's interesting to look at a detailed -- if intellectually bankrupt -- response to the curriculum and see, ultimately, the same rubbish spewed by Phil Lees, Charles McVety, Teresa Pierre, Gwen Landolt, and Jack Fonseca. It's the same mean-spirited, bigoted nonsense -- just dressed up vaguely in the wrappings of educational equity and child development instead of religious faith.

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