Controversy over sex education

There has been a lot of talk recently about the sex education component of the new elementary Health and Physical Education Curriculum.

Ontario elementary schools have included sex education in the curriculum for many decades, but the new curriculum is longer, contains more details and examples, and includes “prompts” for teachers. It was the examples that seem to have caused the controversy.

Sexual health is taught along with things like healthy eating, personal safety, and substance abuse. There are sometimes challenges teaching these topics because of their connection to family, religious and cultural values, but currently many schools have found ways to ensure that they take those factors into account when they teach kids about their bodies and relationships.

After hearing some complaints about the sex education section of the new curriculum, the province has decided to keep it back for now. The Ministry says it will hold discussions about implementing it at a later date.

The new curriculum by grade:

Grades 1 – 3Students learn how to take responsibility for their own safety, stand up for themselves, and get help in situations of abuse.  They learn the names of body parts, begin to understand how their bodies work and develop, and learn factors that contribute to healthy physical and emotional development.

Grades 4 – 6
Students learn how to assess risk, respond to dangerous situations, and protect themselves from a variety of social dangers, including bullying, abuse, and technology-related risks. Students at this age are entering puberty and they learn to understand the physical, emotional, and social changes that they are experiencing.

Grades 7-8
Students learn about physical, emotional, social and psychological factors to consider when making decisions about their emotional and sexual health. At this age, students may think some things “aren’t really sex”, and they’re dealing with a lot of social pressure. The curriculum teaches them about listening to their own feelings, and respecting others. They learn about sexually transmitted diseases, healthy attitudes, and that it’s okay to say no.

To read the new curriculum, go to: http://www.peopleforeducation.com//curriulum/healthPE2010
The old curriculum is available at:
http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/health18curr.pdf

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