One of the promises made by the current Ontario PC government was that they would repeal the 2015 Ontario sex-ed curriculum installed by the former Liberal government if they won the election. They repealed the curriculum within months of winning the election in 2018 and temporarily replaced it with the 1998 curriculum.
In August a student’s family filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) about the PC government’s repeal of the 2015 Ontario sex-ed curriculum, claiming that the 1998 curriculum makes no mention of gender diversity or the rights of LGBTQ students. OHRC is intervening the case before the Human Rights Tribunal.
This brings me to Jordan Peterson’s irresponsible tweet and my response:
How Peterson’s ideas promote violence.
Peterson’s words inspire and foster hatred in others, who use his ideas to defend their actions of prejudice, racism, homophobia, sexual and physical violence. Many look to Peterson as an intellectual who substantiates their anger and rage against “the other”.
It’s worth listening to the Metro Morning show that Peterson references in his tweet. Host Matt Galloway speaks with the OHRC Chief Commissioner, Renu Mandhane about the sex-ed curriculum. The notes and quotes below are taken from the interview, which you can listen to here: Ontario Human Rights Commission intervenes in sex ed case.
- All students and their families deserve to see themselves represented in Ontario’s curriculum. The interim curriculum fails to do that, missing out on supporting LGBTQ issues, and issues of consent, especially for girls who are over-represented when it comes to sexual violence.
- The 2015 curriculum dealt significantly with issues around sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, consent to sexual activity.
- The interim curriculum does mention some of the above concepts but really leaves it up to the teacher to deal with as they arise in the classroom. Of course, they may not arise which leaves kids without getting this information that would have otherwise been delivered.
- The job of the OHRC is human rights and to hold the government accountable.
Galloway asks Mandhane how one responds to the parents who agree with what the current Ontario PC provincial government is doing, and who claim that they weren’t consulted, or that the material is age-inappropriate, etc. (My note: there were many studies and consultations by the previous Liberal government which can be easily found and referenced online.)
Mandhane’s response is simple and elegant (paraphrasing):
‘The curriculum needs to represent everyone who calls Ontario home. There’s a lack of knowledge some people have about other groups, but the solution cannot be an erasure of groups from the curriculum. What needs to happen with the future generation of students is a discussion about their human rights and their responsibility to other people.’
What about the argument, ‘We voted for this government. Our concerns are now being trampled by the Human Rights tribunal.’
“The fundamental basis of human rights is the protection of vulnerable people from simple majority rule.”
Governments cannot act in a way that is discriminatory, even when they have a wide scope in which to act.
The OHRC wants to ensure that LGBT students and girls receive the information they need as some of the most vulnerable people in society. They don’t vote but they are deeply impacted by these decisions.
The social reality is that many youth face homelessness, girls face sexual violence, and many LGBT students don’t feel safe at schools. This is why the government must reflect this reality in the sex-ed curriculum.
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Living OUT theme music: “Summer” by Bensound.com ~ Image source.