Upset with the province’s revamped sex education curriculum that includes the issue of consent, placard-bearing demonstrators made their presence felt outside a Mississauga banquet hall last week, where Premier Kathleen Wynne met with the ethnic media.
She spent a few minutes with the protestors trying to explain the controversial curriculum that will teach kids about homosexuality and same-sex marriage in Grade Three, encourage discussions about puberty, including masturbation, in Grade Six and address preventing sexually transmitted diseases in Grade Seven, which could include information on oral and anal sex.
The new health and physical education curriculum is expected to be implemented in September.
Wynne attributes the lack of information for the protests and urged Ontarians to speak with their Members of Provincial Parliament and read the curriculum – which will soon be posted online – to get a better understanding of what is being proposed.
“I know that all the people outside and all the people concerned about this love their children and want to protect them,” she said. “I know that is why they are protesting and we live in a beautiful country where we all have the opportunity to protest. But we also have the opportunity to get information and so my hope is that we take that opportunity to do so.”
Wynne said the outdated curriculum needed to be revised.
“The reality is that we are behind in terms of other provinces,” she said. “Other provinces have updated their curriculum and results are being seen there in terms of young people not getting pregnant and the rate of teenage pregnancies going down because children have more information. We want to make sure that we have those same results here, that our children are being protected and that they have access to information.
“There is the opportunity in a situation like this which is an emotional and divisive issue where people can be manipulated as part of the political process. This is not a partisan issue. This is about protecting our children. This is the right thing to do. The last thing we need is for parents not to get information. If at the end of the day after parents have read the curriculum and they understand what is in it and they still don’t agree and they still want to withdraw their children from school, they have the ability to withdraw their children from the class.”
Close to 200 media executives and journalists representing ethnic newspapers, magazines, radio, television and Internet programming across the Greater Toronto Area attended the reception.
Wynne reminded them that their media outlets perform a critical function by keeping newcomers in touch with developments in their countries of origin and in Canada.
“The stories that you tell and the work that you do are absolutely vital to shaping the society we all take enormous pride in today,” said Wynne. “We must never take it for granted. You have become an influential force in the life of our province and in helping shape our present and our future. You welcome newcomers, you give them a voice, you empower them to participate across society and to bring all the richness of their backgrounds into the mainstream as part of this beautiful society and you connect them to their communities here in Ontario by giving them the news and the information they need.
“Remember the unique aspect of us as Canadians and as Ontarians is that we come here, but we don’t have to lose everything about our past. We bring that with us and we are able to together create that new society. And most of all, you help to ensure that our media is a mirror on our entire society and not just a window into certain segments of it, but across all parts.”
Wynne assured the media operatives that their contributions go a long way in ensuring that every community member and every age group can enjoy the opportunity and security that the province offers.
“I know we always don’t agree on every issue,” she said. “I am so grateful for what you do in covering the issues that we are bringing forward. That is the way we build a stronger society. Your work plays such an important role in helping me to stay connected to the stories that matter in our communities and across the province just as it does for your millions of readers, viewers and listeners.”