President and Chief Executive Officer
Federation of Canadian Secondary Students | Fédération des Élèves du Secondaire au Canada
+1 (289) 643-6262
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 29, 2016
FCSS-FESC Supports Ontario's Sexual Education Curriculum
Responding to concerning statements made in the Scarborough byelection, warns of dangers of removing "sex ed" from schools
KITCHENER, ONTARIO, AUGUST 29, 2016 — The Federation of Canadian Secondary Students | Fédération des Élèves du Secondaire au Canada (FCSS-FESC) is concerned by statements made by candidates running for election as Members of Provincial Parliament in the Scarborough-Rouge River byelection in east Toronto, Ontario. During the past week, letters were distributed outlining a proposed plan to reverse changes to Ontario's sexual education curriculum as they were introduced by Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister of Education Liz Sandals in early August of 2015.
Ontario's curriculum for sexual education was last revised in 1998 and lacked essential context for teaching human development and sexual health in the modern age where access to the Internet, social media, and smartphones are commonplace for many students. It is the purpose of the Ministry of Education to provide students with accurate and helpful information in all aspects, including sexual education. In a time when students could just as easily find incorrect and potentially harmful information independently using the Internet, educators play a critical role in supporting the development and wellbeing of students.
The updated curriculum teaches students how to appropriately identify their bodies and good hygiene habits (grades one, two), accepting differences and bullying (grades three, four), reproductive systems and personal identity (grades five, six), contraception and gender identity/expression/sexual orientation (grades seven, eight), and healthy relationships and STI prevention (grade nine, onwards).
It is the opinion of the FCSS-FESC that the lessons taught in the updated curriculum are critical to healthy development of students as puberty begins to occur earlier in Canadian youth and the potential for misinformation becomes more prevalent due to the widespread and accessible nature of the Internet and other electronic resources. Proposals to reverse changes to the curriculum, remove essential information that fosters the wellbeing of students and teaches the diversity of gender identities, expressions, and sexual orientations in Canada, and those that advocate for its removal from Ontario schools should be met with caution and concern from both students, parents, and educators.
The sexual education curriculum was revised with input from parents, social workers, police, health care workers, and educators during a public consultation period in 2015. Teaching human development and sexual health in schools is not only a matter of equality for students as they learn of diverse perspectives which may explain potentially confusing sensations surrounding their gender identity and expression, but it is also a matter of public health as comprehensive and accurate sexual health education decreases rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and reduces rates of early-life pregnancy. The FCSS-FESC supports Ms. Wynne's statement that removing the curriculum from schools would be "very, very dangerous," and encourages the candidates in the Scarborough byelection to consider how students would be impacted by a decision to remove sexual health education from Ontario schools.
The Federation of Canadian Secondary Students | Fédération des Élèves du Secondaire au Canada (FCSS-FESC) aims to deliver the student voice to education stakeholders, when it is often forgotten in daily discourse. We are a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that is led completely by youth. Together, we are the largest student alliance of its kind in Canada. Our programmes supplement public education with networking events, leadership opportunities, peer mentorship, and conferences. Our events are designed to guide Canadian youth of today and ensure their successful tomorrow, while working to improve education today.
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