This may come as a surprise to many of my regular readers, but I am actually in favour of Ontario’s new health and physical education curriculum (H/T Jack’s Newswatch) and hope that Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak does not come out against it. True, earlier in the spring of 2010, Hudak saw the McGuinty Liberals using the sex education component as a political wedge issue, but any disagreement should just be about at what age the various topics are introduced, not the curriculum itself.
So, yes, I am in favour of the new health and physical education curriculum because the reality is, if the schools don’t teach about such issues as proper eating habits and the dangers of the Internet, drugs, alcohol and gambling, far too many kids simply won’t learn about them. Why? Because not all parents are good parents and not all parents realize they should be talking about those topics. And, no amount of sugar coating that fact is going to change it. Been there and done that and know exactly why such a curriculum is needed.
Of course, most Ontarians also know that the sex education component of this updated curriculum was removed — temporarily — because of the public outcry. Does that mean those topics will never be included? No, it does not. It simply means the government is undertaking community-based consultations this time around, as they should have done to begin with.
However, surprise, surprise, on that topic, I am not against the curriculum either. Learning about the birds and bees from a technical point of view is always better than experimentation or hearing about someone else’s biases. So, when the sex education component was announced, what I was against was the fact that the sex education curriculum was political — not so much about sex education as it was about the political correctness of gender politics. I was also against the fact that some topics were going to be introduced when children were too young.
However, by all means, let teachers discuss homosexuality as you would heterosexuality. But, not at age six. Rather, teach it at age ten, because by then, kids know more than their parents realize anyway. It should not be a big deal. However, don’t bring in “transgender” topics until high school. Kids have enough to worry about in elementary school. They don’t need more confusion.
Now, before readers say that sex education should be the privy of the parents, be honest. How many parents are going to explain the details about all those topics — and perhaps most importantly — do it in a neutral non-judgmental manner? Of course, parents should be doing that. But, some topics are so complicated, even good parents don’t understand how to present them.
So, should the school system just ignore those issues? No, it is far more pragmatic for teachers to cover all the bases and then good parents can reinforce those concepts as they are being taught. And, remember, simply learning about homosexuality will not make someone homosexual or vice versa. It may, however, put some children’s mind at ease if they are leaning in that direction. So, handled with care, such issues are always better discussed in an educational setting.
As a conservative myself (of the red tory variety), I think it is time that we stopped seeing these issues as progressive versus conservative. They are simply human issues that are not going away any time soon. Same sex marriage is now legal and the sky did not fall. So, no matter what our religious beliefs, for better or worse, our children and grandchildren are better armed with the truth than with old-fashioned biases and stereotypes.
Now, fire away. I know many will disagree with me.