Catholic school sex education plan won’t be taught if it arrives as advertised: Notley

After Ontario, now Alberta has the sex education battles:

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says an alternative sex education curriculum being crafted by Catholic school officials will never be taught if it arrives as previously advertised.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Notley says the health and well-being of students comes first.

“Nowhere do the rights of religious freedom extend to that person’s right to somehow attack or hurt others – and that’s what’s happening here,” Notley said Tuesday. “We will not use public dollars to have sexual health programs that deny science, that deny evidence, and that deny human rights.

“They can continue to work on (the proposal) all they want, but we ultimately approve the curriculum that goes into schools – and this kind of curriculum will not happen.”

Karl Germann, president of the Council of Catholic School Superintendents of Alberta, could not be reached for comment.

The Alberta government is currently rewriting teaching plans across the board for kindergarten to Grade 12.

Catholic school superintendents are crafting an alternative sex education curriculum that they want the province to approve for their schools.

They say the government’s teaching plan clashes with faith-based instruction by including, among other topics, homosexual relationships and gender identity different from one’s biological sex.

In documents filed with the province, the superintendents also take issue with sexual consent by a partner in marriage. They say it is only one of many factors to be considered along with morality, family and wellness.

Notley said consent is paramount and there is no debate.

“Consent is the law in Alberta and under no circumstances will any child in Alberta be taught that they have to somehow accept illegal behaviour in a sexual relationship. The end.”

Notley said her government respects the role of parental choice in education.

“Parents have the right – and they have had the right for a very, very long time – to pull their kids from curriculum and education around sexual health. And they will continue to have that right,” she said.

“But under no circumstances will we enforce or condone a sexual health curriculum that normalizes an absence of consent, refuses to talk about contraception and other things that protect the health of sexually active young people, or in any way marginalizes sexual minorities. That’s not on.”

Education Minister David Eggen echoed Notley’s remarks, particularly around consent.

“There’s no (room for) negotiation for that, I can tell you,” Eggen said in Calgary Tuesday. “Teaching consent is a basic health and safety issue for students in regards to sexuality, and it needs to be strengthened if anything.”

Notley’s government plans to introduce legislation in the fall legislature sitting to strengthen protections for minority students.

It would compel all schools that receive public money to establish anti-discrimination codes of conduct, adopt policies to protect LGBTQ students, and to affirm students’ legal right to set up gay-straight alliances.

Eggen has said many schools have been working with the province on such rules, but 20 of them, mostly private institutions, have been resisting.

Private schools get 70 per cent of their funding from the government.

Eggen has said the bill is also aimed at blunting a proposal from United Conservative leadership candidate Jason Kenney that school officials tell parents when their children join a gay-straight alliance, so long as it doesn’t bring harm to the youngster.

Advocates say there is no way to be sure that a child wouldn’t be ostracized or face harm. Eggen said the legislation will make it clear the decision remains with the student.

Source: Catholic school sex education plan won’t be taught if it arrives as advertised: Notley – The Globe and Mail

Facing opponents of an updated sex ed curriculum: Michael Coren

Coren on those opposed to Ontario’s updated sex-ed curriculum:

Recently I covered my second demonstration against Ontario’s new sex education curriculum. Standing outside of Queen’s Park were the usual suspects — fundamentalist Protestants speaking of “sodomites,” ultra-conservative Catholics disgusted at Pope Francis’ ostensible liberalism and various angry people holding clumsy posters. The last time I was here an Elvis Presley impersonator with a dog collar loudly condemned me from the platform. Not this day alas. Elvis had obviously left the building.

As bizarre as it may sound, this is serious stuff and has led to parents removing their children from school and even to the previous provincial government withdrawing this acutely necessary and entirely reasonable curriculum. So who are these perennially outraged men and women who think we’re all doomed and damned?

I know quite a few of them and their leaders; hardly surprising in that it’s always the same people and the same faces. One prominent regular is a leading anti-abortion campaigner who once made up and then spread the rumour that our youngest daughter, who was still at school at the time, was gay. She happens to be straight but her sexuality is irrelevant to us. Thing is, it was done to try to hurt her and by extension hurt me because I had become increasingly vocal in my support for same-sex marriage. The person in question is a devout Catholic.

Others were from a group who had worked successfully to have me fired as a columnist from a Christian newspaper because I had written that a 10-year-old Paraguayan girl raped by her stepfather had the right to an abortion. So, as I say, I know them well and they’re hardly representative of mainstream Canadian society.

Yet in spite of, or perhaps because of, their extremism these zealots do have a following. More than this, they are trying to co-opt minority communities — principally Chinese Christians and South Asian Muslims — into their coalition.

Their anchors are hysteria, paranoia, fear and ignorance. The apocryphal is wrapped up as established fact and what is gossip becomes ironclad information. At their demonstrations and in their literature they quote the curriculum severely out of context and speak of teachers — always unnamed — who are “perverting” children. There are frequent references to pedophilia and the smog of homophobia is seldom far away.

This latter point needs to be understood, because there has been a deliberate effort on the part of the antisex ed leadership to publicly, if not privately, play down or deny the anti-gay prejudice that was so prominent in earlier demonstrations and in their attitudes toward Kathleen Wynne.

While hardline evangelicals are part of the leadership, the central figures are traditionalist Roman Catholics who reject Pope Francis’ moves toward dialogue and have adopted Cardinal Robert Sarah from Guinea as their champion.

This senior cleric’s name is peppered on antisex ed websites and in their conversations. Sarah has denounced what he calls “Western homosexual and abortion ideologies” as being “demonic” and compared them to Nazism. He has described equal marriage as “part of a new ideology of evil” and supports African anti-gay laws, many of which are hideously punitive and lead to the arrest and assault of gay men and women. This is the reality of the antisex ed movement.

What the activists refuse to say is that it is not this particular curriculum they oppose but any attempt by the state to teach children realistically about sex and sexuality, and certainly any approach that embraces the full equality of the LGBTQ community. Many of them oppose birth control and virtually all of them vehemently oppose reproductive choice and premarital sex. This is not, as they claim, “ordinary parents defending their children.”

At the root of much of all this is a denial of sex as a loving, pleasurable, invariably harmless and entirely natural act. They don’t oppose sex in itself but view it primarily, if not exclusively, as a means of procreation rather than as a method of enjoyment. They also refuse to realize that children, even their children, will be and are sexually active. An acidic nostalgia for a time that never was.

Regrettably, the conversation is not over and neither is the opposition. As for the Elvis impersonator, I fear he will be back to sing again.

Source: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2016/10/03/facing-opponents-of-an-updated-sex-ed-curriculum.html

Ontario students falling through the cracks, TDSB enrolment plunges over sex-ed curriculum

Starting to get the numbers of those who have dropped out from the public school system (headline ‘plunges’ is an over statement). Remains to be seen whether this is a one-time shift (my guess) or longer-term trend.

Also needs to be seen in context of Thorncliffe Park, whose principle engaged with parents with considerable success, with most students returning (see Toronto school [Thorncliffe Park] offers sanitized sex-ed amid parent concern, where enrolment dropped by 40 out of a projected 1,350 – about 3 percent):

Last April, thousands of parents were marching at Queen’s Park in protest against the curriculum. But it took months for public schools to take stock of the ensuing enrolment drop.

… The Ministry of Education said parents have the right to change their children’s schooling if they can’t abide by the update to the old sex-ed curriculum, which it called “dangerously out of date.”

“We respect that many parents choose to home-school their children or enroll them in private schools,” the ministry said in a statement.

Just as it’s unclear how those children are now being taught, it’s unclear how many in total have dropped out of the public system because of sex ed.

In the fall, the idea that the Toronto District School Board had lost students over sex ed was met with skepticism, with some suggesting the board was using that as an excuse for its job cuts. The TDSB’s enrolment has consistently declined for years.

But what happened this year was unusual. The TDSB, with a quarter-million students, normally uses demographic and immigration data to project enrolment within 1-per-cent accuracy, meaning its staff are off by no more than 1,700 students in the elementary grades, spokesman Ryan Bird said.

For the current school year, staff projected an increase of about 300 elementary students, in keeping with recent patterns. Instead, the TDSB elementary head count went down by 2,083, or 2,373 fewer than projected. Staff had been off by an unheard-of 1.4 per cent.

At the TDSB, the five schools that lost the most students were in neighbourhoods at the centre of the sex-ed protests: Thorncliffe Park, Manahil’s old school, lost two full Grade 1 classes.

It’s less clear how much sex ed was to blame for an unprecedented enrolment drop at the Peel District School Board, which covers Toronto’s western suburbs.

Unlike the shrinking TDSB, Peel has grown steadily for years. The fall of 2015 was the first time in many years that the student population declined overall, spokeswoman Carla Pereira said.

The number of elementary students decreased by only 728 from October, 2014. But staff had projected an increase of 900. Like the TDSB, they were off by 1.4 per cent.

Ms. Pereira said the board has since gained about 1,000 students and doesn’t believe sex ed was a significant factor in the dip in numbers. Many South Asian families took fall vacations, she said.

The second-highest drop in the Peel system was at James Potter Public School in Brampton, which has many students from the Sikh community, which was vocal in the sex-ed protests.

Last September, two new Sikh private schools opened in Brampton, adding to two existing ones. The parents who flocked to them were likely swayed at least in part by qualms over the curriculum, said one man who volunteers at newly opened Gobind Sarvar School.

“It’s hard to put a number on it,” said the man, who didn’t want to be identified. “I think [sex ed] was probably something that tilted it.”

Source: Ontario students falling through the cracks, TDSB enrolment plunges over sex-ed curriculum – The Globe and Mail

Sorry, no sex-ed, please — we’re Canadians: Cohn

More balanced assessment than Heather Mallick’s (Sex-ed compromise is short-sighted: Accommodating body-shaming parents is a betrayal of Canadian multiculturalism):

The most maddening and exasperating aspect of last year’s protests was the attempt by a minority of people — motivated by religion, culture or ideology — to impose their views on the vast majority of parents who support modern sex education for their children. The protesters argued, absurdly and selfishly, that if they disliked the sex-ed curriculum, everyone else’s children should also be deprived of that education.

It was an utterly anti-democratic example of the intolerance (and tyranny) of the minority imposing its unsupported views on everyone else — aided by some opposition Progressive Conservative MPPs and abetted by their current leader, Patrick Brown. What made their anti-sex-ed campaign even more objectionable was that their protests were so pointless — for the simple reason that anyone with a religious objection could easily opt out, taking their child out of class.

Don’t like it, don’t take it. But don’t take away my child’s right to a modern education.

Despite that opt-out option, hundreds of parents escalated their protests by withdrawing their children from all classes last spring (not just sex-ed instruction). Many of them also delayed enrolment in the public school system last September to ratchet up the pressure.

Against that backdrop of disruptive protests, Thorncliffe Park principal Jeff Crane undertook extensive consultations. He proposed an alternative class for those first graders whose parents refused to let them see or hear any explicit references to their anatomy — exposing them, at least, to the rest of the health and physical education curriculum.

Did he go too far in acquiescing to unreasonable demands?

In sex-ed, as in sex itself, the perfect is the enemy of the good. Compromise can be a good thing if it minimizes the harm that might come from depriving first graders of any sex-ed at all should their parents persist with boycotts.

The religious objectors had the right, under our existing system, to deprive their children of essential learning. Now, these students will at least benefit from the rest of the curriculum, notwithstanding their parents’ obstinacy.

That’s better than the alternative of an outright boycott. The key point is that all other students, in this school and across the province, will still get unexpurgated sex-ed classes that don’t dilute the overall curriculum.

A child’s interests should always come first. In this case, a principled principal at Thorncliffe Park has shown us that “reasonable accommodation” with unreasonable parents can produce a rational compromise that serves society.

Source: Sorry, no sex-ed, please — we’re Canadians: Cohn | Toronto Star

Toronto school [Thorncliffe Park] offers sanitized sex-ed amid parent concern

Seems like an accommodation that preserves the essence of the curriculum while addressing parental sensitivities:

An alternative to Ontario’s updated health curriculum is being offered by the Toronto elementary school that found itself at the centre of the sex-education controversy — with Grade 1 students having the option to learn about “private parts” instead of proper names for genitalia.

Thorncliffe Park Principal Jeff Crane said because a number of parents had concerns about their children being taught the words penis and vagina, the school decided to offer a class where teachers covered the key issue of inappropriate touching without being specific about body parts, a move meant to keep kids in school this week and at least learn some of the curriculum.

About 60 per cent of the 300 students in that grade were taught the proper curriculum, the remaining 40 per cent the sanitized version.

“We let parents know ahead of time when the health strands for human development were being taught and, for Grade 1, that there would be one lesson where there would be discussion of body parts … They were told if learning the names of genitalia was a concern, they could write me a letter requesting a religious accommodation,” said Crane, whose school is located in the riding represented by Premier Kathleen Wynne, who championed the updated health curriculum.

Parents were told “the lesson would be exactly the same, but instead of using proper terms like penis and vagina, we would use the term ‘private parts.’ The key learning in that expectation is that this is a part of your body always covered with clothes, nobody touches it and you don’t show anybody. We were able to maintain the integrity of the expectation with a very simple accommodation.”

Last September, Thorncliffe Park school was hit by protests — which saw hundreds of children pulled out of school because of the sex-ed curriculum — where parents set up their own classes in the adjacent park. Even weeks later, when that protest ended, enrolment remained lower than expected. But now, it has rebounded and sits at 1,310 students, down from the projected 1,350.

Crane said he held 20 sessions with more than 650 parents to go over the curriculum and to counter misinformation circulating in the community, which has a large Muslim population.

He said he expects to offer modified lessons to students in Grades 4 and 5, when puberty and menstruation are among the topics covered.

Source: Toronto school offers sanitized sex-ed amid parent concern | Toronto Star

Norway Offers Migrants a Lesson in How to Treat Women – The New York Times

Interesting approach, and a far cry from the former Conservative government’s approach of labelling bills and documents with ‘barbaric cultural practices’ rather than meaningful programming and engagement:

The program he helped design focuses on getting newly arrived refugees to open up about their attitudes toward sex, through discussions in small groups supervised by a monitor, usually a native Norwegian. A manual prepared for the course includes sections on “Norwegian laws and values,” as well as violence against children and women.

A class held on Wednesday in Lunde, a village southwest of Oslo, focused on differing perceptions of “honor” and how violence that might be seen as honorable in some cultures is shameful and also illegal in Norway.

A rival program, developed by a private company called Hero Norge, which runs asylum centers under a contract with the government, also promotes discussion as the best way to expose and break down views that can lead to trouble.

Hero Norge’s teaching material studiously avoids casting migrants in a bad light and instead presents a fictional character called Arne, a native Norwegian, as a model of predatory behavior. The main immigrant character, a 27-year-old called Hassan, is, by contrast, introduced as a “good man” who is “honest and well liked.”

In one episode, Arne, the Norwegian, tells Hassan he plans to ply a young woman with alcoholic drinks “to soften her up.” People taking the course are asked questions such as: “How should Hassan react?” “What do you think Arne means when he says he wants to ‘soften her up?’ ” “Is it O.K. to ‘soften someone up’ with alcohol?”

Berit Harr, a course monitor at a refugee center in Ha, a coastal village south of Stavanger, said it was important to avoid making migrants feel as if they were under suspicion while getting them to talk about their own views on relations between the sexes.

“It is difficult to talk about sex,” she said. But, she added, doing so can help refugees navigate potentially dangerous situations in a strange land.

“It is normal here for boys and girls to be friends,” she said. “Smiling and flirting are normal. It doesn’t mean anything. If a girl is drunk it does not mean she is willing to do anything.”

Source: Norway Offers Migrants a Lesson in How to Treat Women – The New York Times

A Tory blend of burqa-bashing and sex-education protests: Cohn

Martin Regg Cohn on the odd alliances at play and how he perceives Canada has changed:

Welcome to Canada, a country of diversity that imagines itself a beacon of multiculturalism, a bulwark of secularism, and a bastion of pluralism (which means, by the way, freedom for and from religion).

Now, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is lifting the veil on the phobias still lurking beneath our vaunted tradition of tolerance. Who knew so many of us could get so hot and bothered about burqas and whipped into such a frenzy about homosexuality and sexuality?

When I returned to Canada a decade ago, after 11 years abroad as a foreign correspondent, I never fathomed that niqabs — a misplaced symbol of Islamist fundamentalism that I encountered overseas — would one day distract voters in a federal campaign.

And when I took over the Ontario politics column four years ago, I never imagined that dogmatic religious conservatism — the intolerance and inwardness I’d left behind abroad — would make a comeback in my home province.

Some days I feel like I’m still stuck in the Middle East watching Palestinians and Israelis at war with one another — or worse, turning on themselves: The baiting, the poking, the code language.

Overseas, it’s fear and loathing. Here at home, it’s smear and goading.

Sex-education protests and burqa-bashing are crossover issues. Like cross-dressing, they can be curious fetishes and phobias.

The fight against sex-education makes for strange bedfellows, for it is the flip side of the battle over the burqa. A vocal fringe within our Muslim minority — many of them clad, it’s worth noting here, in niqabs or hijabs — has made common cause with social conservatives protesting against the provincial sex-education curriculum.

It’s a classic case of the enemy of my enemy is my friend. But with friends like that, who needs enemies?

Oddly for anti-sex-ed Muslim parents, their allies in intolerance of gays are in some cases Conservatives stumping on the campaign trail by stirring up mistrust of Muslims who wear the niqab (which tends to drag down all Muslims).

It’s a teachable moment for any Canadian tempted to join in burqa-bashing: Tolerance is a two-way street.

Not every single parent who has reservations about the provincial sex-education curriculum is homophobic. But if you read the work of the Star’s education reporters, Kristin Rushowy and Louise Brown, it’s hard to ignore the homophobic impulses driving many of the protest organizers — rallying religious newcomers by preying on prejudices they may have carried over from their homelands, where homosexuality equals criminality.

People who defend the right to wear a niqab in public (while requiring them to identify themselves when necessary) aren’t pro-burqa, as NDP Leader Tom Mulcair argued in Friday’s French-language debate, any more than people who are pro-choice are “pro” abortion. Their position is more a variation on the Voltarian dictum, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

One can disapprove of the niqab without disenfranchising women of citizenship and voting rights. But as a wedge issue, the burqa is unbeatable.

It presses our buttons, offends our sense of openness, makes it hard to connect with our interlocutor. Hence Harper’s undisguised glee in stirring up public mistrust of Muslims who cover up, and wounding his political opponents in the process.

Today the niqab. Tomorrow the hijab?

Will those armchair religious scholars who argue that the niqab has nothing to do with Islam (they are almost certainly right) next turn their sights on Canada’s ultra-orthodox Jews, the Hassidic (putatively pious) who persist in wearing black hats and silk stockings in public because they believe it an essential tenet of the faith (most Jews would disagree)? Shall we judge them next, stripping them of their garb as others did only a few decades ago?

Ah, but black hats and kippah and kirpans do not offend us as niqabs now do, you say? Recall that they were both proscribed in a proposed Quebec law banning religious symbols just a couple of years ago — so spare me the niceties on niqabs.

As for those who oppose an updated sex-education curriculum — the campaigning Conservatives having mischievously transposed a provincial responsibility to the federal polity — beware your bedfellows. All those Conservative candidates who tempt you into intolerance will lead you astray one day soon. Doubtless after voting day.

Ontario sex-ed protest ‘unlike anything I’ve ever experienced,’ principal says

On the front-lines, the principal of Thorncliffe Park, who comes across well in his efforts to reach out to parents (about 200 students out of 1,400 are not showing up – 14 percent):

He doesn’t want to be there, but Jeff Crane is on the front lines of a province wide debate over the sex education component of Ontario’s new health and physical education curriculum.

Crane is the principal of Toronto’s Thorncliffe Park Public School.

Crane should have 1,400 students at the elementary school every weekday. Instead, he’s averaging about 1,200 as parents keep kids home over opposition to the sex education component of the curriculum, which was updated this year for the first time since 1998.

Crane, exasperated by the protests, told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Thursday he wants to see the students back in school.

“It’s been unlike anything I’ve ever experienced or ever thought I would experience in a school in Toronto,” Crane told host Matt Galloway. “I’ve spent the past several weeks trying to convince parents to come to school. I never thought we would be doing that in the city of Toronto.”

A group of parents is planning a one-day protest today that if successful, would keep more kids away from classes.

Crane said since the protests began at the start of the school year, he has been busy meeting with small groups of parents, trying to assure them that sex education forms a “tiny component” just “a few lessons” of the overall health and physical education curriculum.

Most of the parents opposed to the curriculum have roots in countries outside Canada. Many feel the curriculum — which teaches students the correct names of sex organs in Grade 1, discusses same-sex relationships by Grade 3, and outlines the perils of sexting in Grade 7 — is  “too much too soon.”

The Wynne government has said the upgraded curriculum is needed to keep children safe in light of changes in technology since the late 1990s, including the advent of social media and the widespread use of smartphones.

But Crane said other parents, a minority among those protesting, have told him their opposition stems from the belief the curriculum is part of a “homosexual indoctrination of Ontario” led by Premier Kathleen Wynne.

“It’s become more about that than about the curriculum,” he said. “These protesters are unreasonable. I can’t reach them.”

As the protest has continued, Crane said parents are holding teaching sessions in groups at a park near the school and in a local community centre using “books from Costco.”

“They aren’t being taught properly,” he said.

Crane said he has had to chase protesters handing out misleading information away from his school. Last month, the words “shame on you” were spray painted on a school building.

So Crane continues his work to “dispel myths” about the curriculum and ensure the school is a welcoming place for all students.

He said his goal is to convince parents that his school “is a place that you can still trust.”

Source: Ontario sex-ed protest ‘unlike anything I’ve ever experienced,’ principal says – Toronto – CBC News

Muslim, newcomer groups join coalition supporting sex-ed

A reminder of the diversity within and among newcomer groups:

Organizations representing Muslim parents and recent immigrants have joined a new, diverse coalition of 144 groups that plans to fight the ongoing anti-sex-education boycotts and billboards with their own public service announcements and open appeal to Ontarians.

“We have examined the new sex-ed curriculum and as people who live and breathe the health and well-being of Ontario’s diverse communities, we say that the curriculum stands on solid, honest ground,” says the Ontario Coalition Supporting Health Education, in an open letter.

Members of the new coalition will gather at Queen’s Park on Wednesday to voice their support for the new curriculum and to release the letter and a video that were provided to the Star in advance of the launch.

While opposition to the updated health curriculum has come from different faith and community groups — with thousands of families pulling their children out of school last spring for up to a week in protest — the epicentre of the controversy continues in Toronto’s Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood, where the local public school was half-empty on the first day and where 120 students remain out of school, most of them from Muslim families who oppose a curriculum they consider immoral and age-inappropriate.

Another province-wide school boycott is scheduled Oct. 1 and billboards are now springing up across the province warning the curriculum threatens children.

“It seems like the opposition as it exists is not just Muslim, but that has captured the narrative. But on the ground, it is really diverse” — and just as diverse as those who support the curriculum, says Toronto mom Rabea Murtaza, who founded the 682-member Muslims for Ontario’s Health and Physical Education Curriculum, which has joined the coalition.

“I’ve heard from a lot of people. I’m part of a number of Muslim mom Facebook groups and … they care about education. The debate is really rich in these groups and there are lots of voices that say ‘it’s OK, we came here for education, our kids need this.’ ”

The coalition comprises religious organizations, First Nations groups, hospitals, universities, parents and community health agencies, and was created to counter those who oppose the sex-ed curriculum, an issue it says has “polarized community agencies and parents across the province.”

Maya Roy, executive director of Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto, said her agency got onside after some of its South Asian members worked on a project where “aunties and grandmothers were trained to go out and run sharing circles in homes and mosques and temples” about domestic violence, and “they were shocked to find out that you can have sexual assault and rape within a marriage” and wanted to inform their own children and grandchildren about that as well as issues like inappropriate touching, which is covered in the new curriculum.

“We feel a small minority is getting a lot of attention,” said Roy, who heads the service that helps 3,000 women a year. “It’s been hijacked — the entire conversation has been hijacked.”

The curriculum itself is “benign,” she argues, and faith-based criticisms, even in her own Bengali community “don’t hold water,” said Roy, who is Hindu. Critics say the curriculum violates family values “but it actually supports family values and encourages kids to talk to an elder or go to a mosque or temple” for guidance.

Sex-ed guide aims to help Muslim parents deal with controversial new curriculum | Toronto Star

A more intelligent response to the new Ontario sex education guide:

A resource guide on the new sex-ed curriculum is making the rounds in the Muslim community, aimed at addressing parents’ concerns that their children will be getting information that directly conflicts with their religious beliefs.

Farrah Marfatia, principal of the Maingate Islamic Academy in Mississauga, wrote the guide, titled How to talk to your Muslim child about topics in the Ontario Ministry of Education’s Health Education Curriculum, 2015, over the summer, as a way to educate parents on what their children will be learning in class — and help them prepare for those sensitive discussions in advance.

How did this guide come about?

When the new curriculum came out, there was a lot of information and misinformation that was being thrown around. Personally, I was also confused about it, so when it came out I first read the document. It’s a huge document, and what kids will be learning is not all in one place, it’s scattered across the document. So, it started as a summary for me.

As an Islamic school principal, private schools are not required to cover the curriculum. But there are a lot of Muslim kids in the public school system, because parents can’t afford Islamic school, or there is no room in Islamic schools. And many parents don’t have the opportunity to home-school even if they want to. And I was thinking about those parents — how do I help public school parents who have no other choice to understand the curriculum from their religious point of view?

Source: Sex-ed guide aims to help Muslim parents deal with controversial new curriculum | Toronto Star

And it appears that the effect on enrolment in public schools is minimal:

No ‘mass exodus’ from Ontario schools despite threats to pull kids in protest of new sex ed curriculum