PHE Canada Position Statement: Ontario Human Development and Sexual Health Education

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The following is a position statement from PHE Canada, originally published on our website.

We urge the Ontario Premier to reverse his decision on sexual health education for the upcoming school year. 

The confusion continues as to why Ontario has decided to turn back the clock. Premier Doug Ford announced on July 11th, 2018 that Ontario school boards will be reverting back to its 1998 sexual health education curriculum pending further parent consultations. PHE Canada believes this decision shortchanges and demeans the health education of the current 2 million school-aged children in Ontario. We believe students will not gain the skills and knowledge needed to advocate for and assist in the management of their own health.

The decision came after the Premiers concern over insufficient consultation prior to its implementation - despite having been the most extensive curriculum consultation in the province's history. The curriculum provided learning opportunities to reflect a society in which informed consent, online safety, mental health, and healthy relationships need to be addressed; topics that differ greatly from 1998. Looking back to the late '90s and what our world looked like then; the internet was in its infancy; social media was unheard of; same-sex marriage was not legal; mental health and abuse were rarely spoken about, and floppy disks were still in their prime. Aside from discrepancies with today's reality, the decision to revert the 2015 curriculum will undoubtedly put pressure on educational and fiscal resources across Ontario. The impracticality of this decision is alarming as new teacher training, research and consultation, curriculum design and development, and curriculum resources will be needed. 

Once a leader in the realm of sexual health education, Ontario will take two steps back in September as the Premier's decision is set to take effect. The question remains: Why roll back a human development and sexual health education curriculum that supports the health and safety of Ontario students in the 21st century? 

PHE Canada believes students have the right to learn from the latest, up-to-date physical and health education curriculum including human development and sexual health. We welcome continuous updating and renewal of curriculum and are sure that parents, students, and teachers would support the consultation process to achieve this. 

Lastly, we press upon teachers to do what is necessary to create safe and inclusive classrooms for their students. In the face of confusion and uncertainty created in Ontario, we urge you to trust your professional judgement.