Sex-ed controversy exposes how different religions, cultures fit into Ontario’s mainstream: Cohn

One of the better pieces of commentary on the opposition to Ontario’s sex-ed updating:

Should a minority movement be able to impose its own viewpoint — and veto — on the majority? Thousands of protesting parents withdrew their children from all classes earlier this month to protest future sex education classes, but let’s be clear on what they are demanding — and what they aren’t.
They are not merely trying to keep their kids out of sex-ed classes. They already have the right — rightly or wrongly — to deprive their children of a curriculum that teaches them how to protect themselves from sexual infections.
Anyone can claim an exemption currently. No, what these parents are fighting for is a veto on all other children benefiting from updated sex-ed classes that the protesters might disagree with — even if the majority of Ontarians support a modernized curriculum.
Consider this analogy: In some GTA schools, parents regularly withdraw their children from dance and music classes they deem to be in conflict with their faith. What if those parents demanded that all music and dance classes be banned in our schools?
An absurd notion — it would never happen — yet the latest wave of protests against sex-ed has taken on that character: Not only shall the protesters’ children not be exposed to updated sex-ed classes, neither should anyone else’s.

No matter that the 240-pages of turgid material does not provide masturbation lessons in Grade 6 (it merely offers basic teacher prompts in case kids raise the subject), or that it does not extol anal sex but rather alerts students to the risks. Never mind that the curriculum was assembled after consultations with hundreds of pedagogical experts (and thousands of parents from school councils), and that it mirrors similar updates in places like Alberta.

Sex-ed controversy exposes how different religions, cultures fit into Ontario’s mainstream: Cohn

Message for Ontario’s sex ed naysayers: Ignorance is far from bliss

Commentary by Aparita Bhandari  on the need for sex education and a reminder of some of the culture behind opposition to sex-ed:

I was around seven years old when I was told I was impure. It was at a family get-together in India that involved a religious ceremony. My mother had her period at the time, and had been segregated to a cold, dark room. I had no idea what was wrong with her, only that I never wanted to have what she had. I was impure by association. I was told I needed to take a purifying bath if I wanted to sit with my cousins. Eager to please, I splashed cold water on my shivering body. But I couldn’t wash away the sense of shame.

As a teenager in New Delhi, I hated taking public transit. Men would press their erections into my backside or try to cop a feel as I squeezed my way off the bus. But I did not know how to talk about it to my mother or anyone else. What words could I use? So I kept quiet, and avoided using public transit.

But it’s hard to stay quiet now when many parents in Ontario are removing their children from classrooms to protest the revised sex ed curriculum introduced by Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government. They cite cultural concerns and family values but, as far as I’m concerned, a culture of shame and silence is more dangerous. And given the possibility that many of these parents aren’t going to talk to their kids about sex, it’s even more important that their children receive sex education that’s well researched and takes into account the access young people have to sexual information (and misinformation) today and includes topics such as sexual consent.

Since I attended a public school in Australia from Grades 5 to 8, I happened to learn about menstruation, puberty and my developing body through a mixture of books, sex ed classes and educational films that I caught on TV. But I never learned about sex from an authorized source. Back in New Delhi, there were exactly two pages devoted to reproduction in my Grade 9 biology class, which our Science teacher more or less skipped over. The main take-away was that we should know how to draw anatomical diagrams of male and female sex organs for our annual school examination. Any practical education came from romance novels and whispered conversations with friends.

I never had “the talk” with my parents, but I was repeatedly told by the women in my family that I had to watch what I wore, how I acted. I was warned, “Rape bhi ho sakta hai (You can get raped).” Nobody even told me what rape was, although Bollywood movies at the time had frequent scenes that suggested men sexually assaulting women.

Message for Ontario’s sex ed naysayers: Ignorance is far from bliss – The Globe and Mail.