Ontario education minister warned of ‘impacts’ of sex-ed rollback, human rights tribunal told

[ad_1]

Senior ministry staff warned the education minister that rolling back the sex-ed curriculum could be perceived as “outdated” and “not serving the needs of today’s students,” an Ontario human rights tribunal heard Thursday.

That’s according to a document introduced as part of a human rights challenge launched by an 11-year-old transgender child who contends the province’s repeal of the 2015 Health and Physical Education (HPE) curriculum discriminates against LGBTQ students.

A memo from senior ministry staff to Education Minister Lisa Thompson flagged concerns about rolling back the sex-ed curriculum because it would mean the exclusion of such topics as consent and sexting, among other things, a human rights tribunal was told Thursday.
A memo from senior ministry staff to Education Minister Lisa Thompson flagged concerns about rolling back the sex-ed curriculum because it would mean the exclusion of such topics as consent and sexting, among other things, a human rights tribunal was told Thursday.  (Andrew Francis Wallace / Toronto Star File Photo)

In a memo to Education Minister Lisa Thompson, dated July 25, 2018, assistant deputy ministers Martyn Beckett and Denys Giguère wrote about the “impacts” of quashing the 2015 HPE curriculum for elementary students, and replacing it with an interim one that included sex-ed material from 1998.

“There would be no mandatory learning of the following topics: consent, sexting, homophobia, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression,” wrote Beckett and Giguère.

They also pointed out that such a move “could be perceived by the public as outdated and not serving the needs of today’s students.” And, they noted, “some school boards have voiced their concern with utilizing sexual-health expectations from 1998.”

Nonetheless, in late August, Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government moved ahead with an election promise and repealed the modernized HPE curriculum, which some social conservatives felt was not age appropriate. It was replaced with an interim document from 2010, which includes sex-ed material from 1998.

Read more:

Consent big concern during sex-ed consultations, Minister Lisa Thompson says

Sex-ed curriculum ‘doesn’t talk about consent enough,’ Education Minister Lisa Thompson says

Transgender girl says sex-ed repeal made her nervous about returning to school

The government also launched an extensive public consultation process on a range of education issues and received about 72,000 submissions between September and December.

Beckett, who testified Thursday, said he and Giguère “wanted to be clear and transparent” with the minister about how the curriculum change would impact mandatory teaching expectations.

But, he added that just because topics are no longer deemed mandatory doesn’t mean teachers can’t teach them. He said “teachers have the ability to use their professional judgment … in how they wish to develop their lesson” and are free to teach about issues, such as gender identity, stereotypes and LGBTQ issues.

Teachers have a responsibility to ensure that all students feel “welcomed, included and celebrated,” he told the tribunal.

When asked why the province did not keep the 2015 curriculum in place while undertaking its consultation process, Beckett said the government was committed to giving Ontarians a voice.

The applicant in this human rights case is an 11-year-old identified only as AB. Last week, AB testified that the government’s rollback of the curriculum puts trans youth in the shadows.

Students at Western Technical Commercial School joined a province-wide protest against the Ford government's rollback of the sex-ed curriculum in September.
Students at Western Technical Commercial School joined a province-wide protest against the Ford government’s rollback of the sex-ed curriculum in September.  (Steve Russell / Toronto Star File Photo)

AB’s lawyers Mika Imai and Marcus McCann argue that revoking an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum and replacing it with a noninclusive one violates the human rights of LGBTQ students.

“We think this puts trans and queer youth at risk of being bullied and being harassed,” Imai told the Star, during a break in proceedings.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has intervened seeking to protect the rights of girls and LGBTQ+ students, which it says are among the province’s most vulnerable and at-risk people. It also believes the interim curriculum does not properly address consent, putting students at greater risk of sexual violence.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and Justice for Children and Youth are intervenors in this case.

Lawyers for the government argue teachers have substantial discretion when it comes to delivering the interim curriculum and are allowed to use any resource they choose to help them design their lesson plans. Beckett said teachers can still use the 2015 curriculum as a resource — that document, however, is no longer available on the ministry website.

“Teachers are required to teach in an inclusive way,” said Beckett. “Teachers are to be mindful and inclusive of children in the community and in the province of Ontario.”

Although curriculum development typically takes about two years, Beckett said the province is committed to delivering a new HPE curriculum by September.

The matter is being adjudicated by Jennifer Scott and Brenda Bowlby.

Proceedings will resume Friday and closing arguments are scheduled for next week

The province is also facing a separate human rights challenge launched by two transgender teens, and legal challenges by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.

Isabel Teotonio is a Toronto-based reporter covering education. Follow her on Twitter: @Izzy74

[ad_2]

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Teachers can still use 2015 sex-ed curriculum in Ontario as a resource, province’s lawyer tells court

[ad_1]

Lawyers defending the province’s repeal of the 2015 sex-ed curriculum told a court on Thursday that teachers can still use it as a resource while abiding by the interim curriculum.

“There’s a lot of latitude because of the way the expectations are written,” Zachary Green told a panel of three judges in Divisional Court. “Teachers can use the 2015 document as a resource to meet the expectations in the 2018 document.”

He said they can use their professional judgment in selecting from a variety of resources and background material, including documents such as “How to Become a Super Rad Gender Warrior Classroom teacher.”

The judges pressed him on whether teachers would be sanctioned for using the modernized 2015 curriculum. Green said they would not, “provided it’s a reasonable exercise.”

“It’s not a blank cheque,” he said. “I can’t stand here and say teachers can say whatever they want. That goes too far.”

Judges also asked if teachers are free to talk about issues contained in the 2015 documents, such as consent, transgender and homophobia, to which Green replied, “Yes.”

It was the second of a two-day hearing that’s the result of separate legal challenges made by Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA).

ETFO says the Progressive Conservative government’s directive to scrap the 2015 Health and Physical Education (HPE) curriculum created a chilling effect amongst educators. That violates the rights of educators and students, because it limits their ability to teach material that keeps children safe, says ETFO.

Meanwhile, the CCLA argues the interim curriculum — a 2010 document that contains sex-ed material from 1998 — has erased references to sexual orientation, gender identity and same-sex relations. That, says the CCLA, violates the constitutional right to equality of LGBTQ+ students and parents.

Judges asked Green whether teachers could discuss key issues such as consent with elementary students, which are expectations of the 2015 curriculum, but not the current one.

He said nothing prohibits talking about consent, if that’s something teachers want to draw upon in how they teach the current curriculum. Ultimately, he said, it’s up to the teacher.

“It’s a false dichotomy to say they can either use the 2015 (curriculum), or the 2018 one,” he said.

Green noted that various school boards, including the Toronto District School Board, have publicly stated they are following the current curriculum, but still tackling topics such as consent and are teaching in a manner that is inclusive of all students, including LGBTQ+.

Speaking outside the courtroom, NDP education critic Marit Stiles called the government’s arguments “pretty confusing.”

“It’s pretty clear to me that the government’s statements to date have caused many teachers, students, parents to question whether or not their children are going to be learning how to be kept safe from bullying . . . consent and LGBTQ and identity issues,” Stiles said.

She said the government has sent out “very confusing and conflicting” communications, about what the curriculum is and what the expectations are of teachers.

“Today was just another indication of this ongoing chaos and confusion they have created,” Stiles said.

Part of the confusion — and what ETFO says helped create a chilling effect amongst teachers — stems from comments made by Premier Doug Ford, when he announced the curriculum rollback in August.

“Make no mistake, if we find somebody failing to do their job, we will act,” Ford said at the time.

Green said the premier’s comments were in response to an earlier ETFO press release urging teachers to follow the 2015 curriculum, which he described as “their cry of rebellion.” The province’s position is clear in that the current curriculum must be followed.

Sam Hammond, ETFO president, told reporters outside court that he was “pleasantly pleased” to hear the province say teachers can use the 2015 curriculum, but was also “absolutely surprised.”

“It’s the first time since this whole debate began that the government, or a representative of the government, said ‘Yes, teachers may use the 2015 curriculum as a resource in implementing the current curriculum,’ ” Hammond said.

Hammond said if the premier, and government, had made that clear at the outset, “We wouldn’t be here today.”

The current HPE curriculum is an interim document. The province has said it’s working on drafting a new document for the next school year that is based on feedback from a public consultation process that resulted in 72,000 submissions.

The judges asked Green if he could assure them that the government would release a new HPE curriculum in time for the next school year.

“It’s intended to be released in the fall of 2019,” said Green. “But I can’t make a promise. These are big tasks.”

Isabel Teotonio is a Toronto-based reporter covering education. Follow her on Twitter: @Izzy74

[ad_2]

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Sex-ed rollback, launch of snitch line, created ‘chill’ among teachers, court hears

[ad_1]

Ontario’s elementary teachers are legally challenging the rollback of the modernized sex-ed curriculum because it has caused a “chilling effect” among educators and put students at risk of harm, a court heard Wednesday.

Lawyers for the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), a union representing 83,000 educators, say the repeal of the 2015 Health and Physical Education (HPE) curriculum, and the creation of a website for parents to report non-compliant teachers, was unconstitutional.

Teachers take part in a rally at Queens Park to protest the rollback of the modernized sex-ed curriculum in August. Ontario elementary teachers have taken the government to court over the rollback, saying it deprives students of important information and puts them at risk.
Teachers take part in a rally at Queens Park to protest the rollback of the modernized sex-ed curriculum in August. Ontario elementary teachers have taken the government to court over the rollback, saying it deprives students of important information and puts them at risk.  (Eduardo Lima / Star Metro File Photo)

“This case is not about the curriculum, it’s about the directive and the reporting site,” said ETFO lawyer Adriel Weaver in Divisional Court. She said there’s been a “chill” among teachers making them afraid to teach the 2015 curriculum, which ultimately deprives students of information, putting them at risk.

ETFO lawyers say the directive by the Progressive Conservative government violates the rights of teachers by limiting their freedom of expression, and the rights of students.

The two-day hearing is tackling two separate legal challenges to the province’s rollback of the 2015 curriculum, which included such topics as same-sex relationships, consent and gender identity. The other application was made by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA). Both groups want the government directive quashed, but the province, which will make its arguments Thursday, says the applications should be dismissed.

In August, Premier Doug Ford scrapped the 2015 HPE curriculum for elementary grades because some social conservatives felt it wasn’t age appropriate. It was replaced with a curriculum issued in 2010, which contains sex-ed material from 1998. At the time, he warned teachers who did not comply would face repercussions, saying: “Make no mistake, if we find somebody failing to do their job, we will act.” His government also launched a website called ForTheParents.ca, which some critics likened to a snitch line.

ETFO says the reporting website, which is no longer active, had the effect of intimidating teachers, constraining their professional judgment, and ensuring students don’t learn the 2015 curriculum.

The panel of three judges asked the ETFO lawyers if any teachers had been disciplined or if they had any data, or teacher surveys, indicating a chill effect. But they did not.

Prior to proceedings, Cindy Gangaram, a co-applicant in the ETFO challenge, told reporters she has experienced a chill effect, saying the directive “coerces me as a teacher to not teach important topics that had been included in the repealed 2015 curriculum.”

Lawyers representing the CCLA and co-applicant Becky McFarlane, who’s a queer parent of a sixth grader, focused their arguments on the curriculum change. They say the interim curriculum doesn’t include sexual orientation, gender identity and same-sex relationships, which alienates the LGBTQ+ community and violates their constitutional right to equality.

Stuart Svonkin, who represents the CCLA and McFarlane, said the directive is discriminatory against those who are LGBTQ+ because they have been “erased” from the curriculum. When the judges asked if there had been an infringement of rights during all those years when that sex-ed material was taught, from 1998 to 2014, Svonkin replied, “The world has changed … The Human Rights Code has changed.”

His comments were echoed, in part, outside the courthouse by Michael Bryant, executive director of the CCLA.

“The official curriculum in Ontario has been changed — it used to be diverse and now it’s heterosexual only,” he told reporters. “Obviously, this is about homophobia. If the government is going to be homophobic with its curriculum, you can bet the Constitution will have something to say about that.”

According to court documents filed by the province, sexual health topics in school are not matters of constitutional law. Furthermore, their lawyers argue that teachers have a great deal of discretion when it comes to lesson plans and have a duty to teach in a way that’s inclusive of all students, including LGBTQ+.

Outside court, ETFO president Sam Hammond told reporters the province is being hypocritical, by saying teachers have discretion when the government issued a warning to them and created a “snitch line to solicit complaints.”

“Thousands of frustrated Ontarians have called for the reinstatement of the (2015 curriculum), he said. “We have collected thousands of petition signatures calling for the sexual health component of the 2015 curriculum to be restored.”

The province recently wrapped up a public consultation on education issues, which will inform its creation of the next HPE curriculum to be issued for the next academic year. Between September and December, it received 72,000 submissions through web surveys, online comments, and telephone town halls.

At Queen’s Park, Progressive Conservative MPP Paul Calandra (Markham-Stouffville) said the government is “fairly confident” it will win the case.

Calandra noted the Tories consulted the public extensively as it prepares to revamp the health curriculum.

“I never in my wildest imagination thought that there would be 72,000 engagements in the process. It has gone very, very well,” he said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, NDP MPP Terence Kernaghan (London North Centre) said when children see themselves reflected in the curriculum, they “thrive both educationally and socially.”

“By deliberately removing LGBTQ identities and families from the curriculum, the Ford Conservatives put students at risk,” Kernaghan, the NDP’s critic for LGBTQ issues, said in a statement. “Any person, and any parent of a child who’s been a victim of cyber bullying, a survivor of sexual violence, or subjected to discrimination because of their LGBTQ identity, can tell you how devastating it is for a child’s mental and physical health to be denied information, empowerment and a safe space.”

With files from Robert Benzie

Isabel Teotonio is a Toronto-based reporter covering education. Follow her on Twitter: @Izzy74

[ad_2]

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Showdown over Ontario’s sex-ed curriculum lands in court

[ad_1]

After months of heated debate, the province’s controversial rollback of the modernized sex-ed curriculum will be challenged in a Toronto courtroom beginning Wednesday.

The two-day hearing, before three judges in Divisional Court, comes after two separate applications by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO). Both groups want the court to quash the government’s repeal of the 2015 Health and Physical Education (HPE) curriculum. The province, however, says those requests should be dismissed.

Ontario teachers rally at Queens Park last August to protest the rollback of the province’s sex-ed curriculum. That rollback faces a legal challenge in court on Wednesday.
Ontario teachers rally at Queens Park last August to protest the rollback of the province’s sex-ed curriculum. That rollback faces a legal challenge in court on Wednesday.  (Eduardo Lima / Star Metro File Photo)

The legal challenges were launched after Premier Doug Ford fulfilled a campaign promise in August by scrapping the 2015 HPE curriculum for elementary grades, which included topics such as same-sex relationships, consent and gender identity. That curriculum was introduced by the previous Liberal government after extensive consultation with health experts, teachers, students and some parents. But socially conservative parents said it was too explicit and not age-appropriate, prompting some to pull their children out of public schools.

The 2015 HPE curriculum was replaced with one issued in 2010, containing sex-ed material from 1998 lesson plans. The province ordered this interim curriculum be used until it releases a new one next September, which will be based on feedback from the public. From September to December, the government conducted what it calls the largest public consultation on education in the province’s history, asking about issues such as cellphone use in the classroom, improving math scores and sex-ed. It received 72,000 submissions through online surveys, comments, and 27 telephone town halls.

People have also spoken out in other ways. In August, members of ETFO — the union representing 83,000 educators — marched to Queen’s Park, saying the curriculum change violated human rights and put kids in harm’s way. And in September, an estimated 38,000 students in cities such as Toronto, Ottawa and London, walked out of class in protest, calling for the reinstatement of the modern curriculum.

One application, by ETFO and teacher Cindy Gangaram, argues the interim curriculum is “grossly inadequate” because the sex-ed material was created before the advent of social media, cyberbullying, same-sex marriage and human rights protections for gender identity. Nor does it address consent. It also says a government website for parents to complain about teachers using the repealed 2015 sex-ed curriculum — it was dubbed ForTheParents.ca and lambasted by many for being akin to a snitch line — was created to “intimidate teachers, constrain their professional judgment, and serves as a means to ensure that students would no longer be exposed to the content of the 2015 curriculum.”

Read more:

The naked truth about how the repealed sex ed program compares to the 1998 one that replaces it

Opinion | Emma Teitel: The support for a modern sex-ed curriculum is there but will Doug Ford listen?

‘We want to have our voices heard,’ says teen behind provincewide student sex-ed protest

ETFO argues the government violated the constitutional rights of teachers, by limiting their freedom of expression, and the rights of students.

The other application, by the CCLA and queer parent Becky McFarlane, notes they’re not challenging the province’s authority to launch a consultation process or develop a new curriculum, but rather that an outdated curriculum is being used while a new one is drafted. They want the court to reinstate the 2015 curriculum, while a new one is created.

The CCLA argues the interim curriculum doesn’t include sexual orientation, gender identity and same-sex relations, which “stigmatizes, degrades, and alienates LGBTQ+ students and parents” and violates their constitutional right to equality. Also, because it doesn’t properly address issues of consent and online safety, it violates a person’s right to security, which is also a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The province, however, says sexual health topics in school are matters of educational policy and democratic decision-making, not constitutional law.

“The Constitution of Canada does not entrench any particular elementary school curriculum,” it notes in previously-filed court documents. “The 2018 (interim) HPE curriculum does not deprive anyone of life, liberty or security of the person. Nor is it discriminatory.”

It notes “teachers are obliged to implement the 2018 HPE curriculum in a manner that is inclusive and provides equal benefit to all students, including LGBTQ2S+ students” and that they have “substantial discretion” when it comes teaching material.

“Teachers are free to answer questions and address topics that are not expressly referred to in the curriculum document in the course of teaching the curriculum,” it notes. “Such ‘teachable moments’ are not prohibited.”

The province also says “teachers have access to a variety of professional learning and supports, including resources on inclusivity for LGBTQ2S+ students.”

With files from Kristin Rushowy

Isabel Teotonio is a Toronto-based reporter covering education. Follow her on Twitter: @Izzy74

[ad_2]

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Scrapping sex-ed curriculum doesn’t violate Constitution, Ford government argues

[ad_1]

The Ontario government’s move to scrap controversial parts of the province’s sex-ed curriculum in no way violates the Constitution or anyone’s human rights, lawyers for the province will argue this week. 

The government laid out its case in a 126-page legal document filed ahead of a hearing that begins Wednesday in Ontario Superior Court.    

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) are both challenging the government’s move to scrap the health and physical education curriculum that was introduced in 2015 under the previous Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne. Ontario schools are now teaching from the previous curriculum, originally developed in the late 1990s. 

The groups want the court to order the province to reinstate the 2015 curriculum, while the province wants the case dismissed.

The Progressive-Conservative government argues that its changes to sexual education relate to « educational policy and democratic decision-making, not constitutional law. » 

« The Constitution of Canada does not entrench any particular elementary school curriculum, » says the government in its written arguments, known as a factum. « It does not prescribe the sexual health topics that must be taught, the level of detail with which they must be articulated, or the particular grades in which they must be introduced. »

Sam Hammond, left, president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, and lawyer Howard Goldblatt, right, outline the union’s plan to fight the government’s repeal of the 2015 curriculum. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

The province’s lawyers say the pre-2015 curriculum is not discriminatory, does not infringe on freedom of expression and does not deprive anyone of the key constitutional values of « life, liberty or security of the person. »

If Ontario was not violating the Charter of Rights and Freedoms before the 2015 curriculum was implemented, returning to that curriculum now cannot be unconstitutional, the province argues.

ETFO’s written arguments say that Ontario children are being exposed to a greater risk of harm by reverting to the previous curriculum. The teachers’ union says the sexual education being taught now is « based on a document created prior to the advent of social media, same-sex marriage, and human rights protections for gender identity, to say nothing of contemporary understandings of consent. » 

CCLA’s written arguments say the government’s move « stigmatizes, degrades, and alienates » LGBT students and parents because references to sexual orientation, gender identity and same-sex relationships have been deleted from the curriculum.

The government counters that teachers are required to deliver the current curriculum « in an inclusive way » and « in a way that reflects diversity. »

« A curriculum is not a script for teachers to recite, or a list of mandatory or prohibited words, » says the province’s legal filing. « The fact that the words ‘gender identity’ do not specifically appear in the 2018 learning expectations does not mean that teachers may not teach about this topic. »

Students at Strathroy District Collegiate Institute joined their peers across Ontario when they walked out of school last September to protest changes to the curriculum. (Colin Butler/ CBC News)

The curriculum that was introduced by Wynne’s government was greeted with strong enthusiasm by sexual health educators and progressive groups, but with fervent protest from social conservatives and religious groups. Its opponents claimed the curriculum introduced topics such as gender identity and body parts at too early an age.  

Shortly after taking office last summer, Premier Doug Ford announced that Ontario would revert to the older sex-ed curriculum for the 2018-19 school year. He had campaigned on a promise to scrap the 2015 version. 

His government recently wrapped up a province-wide consultation on school reforms that received some 72,000 submissions. Online submissions on the first day of the consultation indicated widespread support for the 2015 curriculum.

Ford said in December that « certain groups » flooded the website on its launch and may have skewed the results, but he didn’t name the groups. 

The government’s legal argument says the consultation that resulted in the 2015 curriculum was far too limited to reflect the full range of public opinion.

[ad_2]

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Ontario kids don’t have up-to-date sex-ed, but they can learn from Conservative politicians

[ad_1]

When I was in Grade 6, my teacher gave me some great advice.

I had written a little note, inspired by some revolutionary-themed book I had read, recruiting my classmates to join a playground rebellion.

MP Tony Clement was kicked out of Tory caucus this week after admitting he was lured into sending a blackmailer sexually explicit photos. According to Tory Leader Andrew Scheer, "numerous" other incidents and allegations involving Clement have since emerged.
MP Tony Clement was kicked out of Tory caucus this week after admitting he was lured into sending a blackmailer sexually explicit photos. According to Tory Leader Andrew Scheer, « numerous » other incidents and allegations involving Clement have since emerged.  (Adrian Wyld / Toronto Star file photo)

“Tired of SCUMBAG Burt?” it began.

Mrs. Burt found it among the math homework I’d submitted. I remember how my classmates laughed and howled as she called me out and read the note aloud.

Then, before sentencing me to months of indoor recesses writing lines, she said: “You can think what you want. You can even say what you want. But never, ever, ever write it down.”

I went on to pursue a career of writing things down. I’m incorrigible, clearly.

Still, the lesson that if you make a record of something you may be held accountable was, and remains, valuable. It’s becoming clear, though, that her phrasing may need an update.

We live in the digital panopticon now, as a bunch of players from the Ottawa Senators were reminded this week. They didn’t write anything down, but wound up accountable on front pages across the country when an after-work gripe session in an Uber van, in which they badmouthed one of their coaches and expressed their own growing indifference to their work, was recorded on video, apparently on a dash camera, and released publicly.

“Anything you say can be used against you,” seems now a warning not just necessary for U.S. police arrests, but to chatting in any public place, and perhaps in a lot of fairly private places too. This is a sad development. People need to be able to talk things out, think out loud, vent. If you can’t whine about your clown of an assistant manager at the bar after a rough shift, the very nature of how we deal with work stress is going to have to change.

It’s a case where you wish the person who released the video had taken some different early advice: “Don’t be a jerk.” But it’s hard to even think of how to update the advice a teacher might give the players that would have come in handy, beyond the old faithful “if you don’t have anything nice to say …”

The same isn’t true of Tony Clement, the federal Conservative MP who stepped down from the shadow cabinet this week after revealing he’d been catfished. That is, some wannabe blackmailer posing as a sexually interested woman lured him into sending sexually explicit photos and a video of himself.

From this bit alone, it was easy to have some kind of sympathy for the guy getting suckered and shamed for what he thought was a private sexy interaction — albeit illicit and extramarital. But by now, shouldn’t our full-grown middle-aged adult politicians be getting the message that practically no one wants to see pictures of their junk, and that any pictures they do send — especially to strangers online — become beyond their control?

The whole brave new world of intimacy in the age of digital communication is full of really difficult and tricky issues to navigate. But surely “if you’re a prominent politician, don’t send strangers nekkid pictures of yourself” should be obvious enough. Think what you want, say what you want, but never, ever go fishing with an image of your bait and tackle.

But then it emerged, almost immediately, that Clement had a bit of a reputation — that there were “numerous reports of other incidents, allegations,” as Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer put it in throwing him out of caucus. It’s reported he was known to be sort of the Instagram equivalent of a creepy leering uncle, following and obsessively “liking” and responding to the photos (especially self-portraits and in at least one case a nude photo) of young politically active women, sometimes sending them chatty private messages late at night.

Nothing illegal about that, but plenty of women seemed to find it creepy and “aggressive” and off-putting. Maybe it’s hard for a 57-year-old man to understand why, when a young woman’s phone buzzes repeatedly with push notifications telling her he’s thumbed the heart button on another one of her months-old photos, she might conclude he is a creep (or, as sexual violence educator Julie Lalonde told Vice, “a thirsty old man”). Maybe it’s not obvious. But it should be.

In related news, Ontario Premier Doug Ford recently showed the door to one of his most senior cabinet ministers, Jim Wilson, and one of his key aides, Andrew Kimber. Both men are under investigation. Kimber is accused of sending PC staffers sexually inappropriate texts with photos attached, while Wilson is accused making a sexually inappropriate remark to staffer.

Hearing all this, you might think, “if only there were a lesson these men might have been taught in grade school that would have helped them understand how to avoid these situations.” If it’s too late for them, at least something to help our new generations of children do better. Lessons in consent so they’d clearly understand how and why to avoid inappropriate advances, or lessons about the potential pitfalls and dangers of sexually communicating online.

And then you might remember, we were supposed to have a sex education curriculum for our kids that taught those exact things. Just this past summer, the provincial Progressive Conservative government scrapped that curriculum, and warned that teachers who dared to teach its lessons would be disciplined.

The new wise warnings about respectful behaviour and accountability, it seems, can’t come from teachers. If we want our children to learn about these dangers, I suppose we just have to get them to read the news reports about Conservative politicians instead.

Edward Keenan is a columnist based in Toronto covering urban affairs. Follow him on Twitter: @thekeenanwire

[ad_2]

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Ford government defends sex-ed rollback, argues teachers retain ‘substantial discretion’

[ad_1]

Teachers have “substantial discretion” when it comes to the interim sex-ed curriculum and are “required” to teach it “in a way that is inclusive and that reflects the diversity of the student population, including LGBTQ2S+ diversity,” says the province.

That’s according to court documents filed this week by the Minister of Education in response to legal challenges that argue the Progressive Conservatives’ controversial rollback of the Health and Physical Education (HPE) curriculum for elementary students is discriminatory and not inclusive.

Student across Ontario staged a walkout on Sept. 21 to protest Premier Doug Ford’s rollback of the sex-ed curriculum. Students at Western Technical Commercial School are shown during a rally outside their school.
Student across Ontario staged a walkout on Sept. 21 to protest Premier Doug Ford’s rollback of the sex-ed curriculum. Students at Western Technical Commercial School are shown during a rally outside their school.  (Steve Russell / Toronto Star File Photo)

The documents also provide insight into the popularity of a government website ForTheParents.ca that was created for parents to share concerns about the curriculum taught in their child’s classroom, which garnered intense backlash when it was launched and was lambasted by critics as being a “snitch line.”

In an affidavit, filed Monday in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Martyn Beckett of the Ministry of Education says learning expectations are designed so that “teachers have substantial discretion in deciding how to teach them.”

“No particular script or list of prohibited or mandatory words is provided,” says Beckett, assistant deputy minister of the student achievement division. “Teachers can choose, in the exercise of their professional judgment, how to design classroom programs to achieve the learning expectations in each grade set out in the HPE Curriculum, and how to implement those classroom programs for a diverse and heterogeneous class of individual students.”

For instance, he notes, teachers can talk about sexual orientation and gender identity, as part of a Grade 5 learning expectation that students “describe physical, emotional, and interpersonal changes associated with puberty.” And in Grade 7, when students are expected to “identify sources of support with regard to issues related to healthy sexuality (e.g., parents/guardians, doctors),” teachers can discuss sources of support that may focus on LGBTQ2S+ students.

Similarly, in Grade 1, students are expected to identify “major parts of the body by their proper names,” and nothing prohibits teaching students “the proper names for genitalia (including penis and vagina).”

His affidavit was among the documents submitted by the province in its response to legal challenges by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO).

Those challenges were launched after Premier Doug Ford in August repealed the modernized Health and Physical Education curriculum introduced in 2015, which addressed issues such as same-sex relationships, consent, sexual orientation and gender identity. It was replaced by an interim curriculum from 2010, which includes sex-ed material from 1998.

The CCLA and Becky McFarlane — the queer parent of a 10-year-old girl in Grade 6 — filed a joint application in late August seeking an injunction to stop what it called a “discriminatory” curriculum. They argue the outdated curriculum does not foster a safe and inclusive environment for those who are LGBTQ+ and that the province is violating the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that guarantees equality and security; the Ontario Human Rights Code that outlaws discrimination; and the Education Act that requires schools be an inclusive environment.

In early September, ETFO launched another legal challenge which argues the province is violating teachers’ Charter rights, and their professional and ethical obligations enshrined within the Education Act and the Standards of Practice of the Ontario College of Teachers. The union, which represents 83,000 educators, is also demanding an end to the so-called snitch line, calling it an abuse of power.

In his affidavit, Beckett says that when ForTheParents.ca was introduced Aug. 22, it was for parents to weigh in on the sex-ed curriculum taught to their kids. During the first month, the government received about 25,000 submissions — of these, “very few included allegations of professional misconduct against a teacher, and only 13 of these included the contact information of the person making the submission.” The ministry contacted those 13 people and told them to notify the Ontario College of Teachers.

On Sept. 28, the website was broadened to solicit input on a range of education issues, including improving math and science grades and banning cellphone use in the classroom, as part of a province-wide consultation. By Oct. 29, the government had received 9,897 submissions and 6,523 people had completed a survey. People can also participate in Telephone Town Halls, which have been attracting between 25 and 135 participants per session.

Beckett notes the consultation process will run until Dec. 15 and that input will inform the government’s decisions for the next school year, including the creation of a new sex-ed curriculum that is age appropriate.

Both the CCLA and the ETFO challenges will be heard together in Divisional Court in January.

Isabel Teotonio is a Toronto-based reporter covering education. Follow her on Twitter: @Izzy74

[ad_2]

Source link

قالب وردپرس