New sex ed guide no problem for English school boards


Family Life and Fully Alive policy guidelines for students’ social and family education and foresees no difficulty with doing the same with the revised curriculum. «The vast majority of this revised curricu- lum, we’ve already been teaching,» he said, adding that the focus of the curriculum is on awareness of issues related to health, fitness, and sex education. Both district officials noted that teachers always have the option to make use of the curriculumcomponents as needed to teach students, at the varying grade levels. The emphasis is on awareness of healthy living first and foremost using the curriculumgui- delines to work out classroom lesson plans. «They (guidelines) are not necessarily prescribed,» said Laton, concerning whether everything in the revised curriculumwill be amandatory part of classroom lesson plans. «They’re prompts or examples that teachers may use if they’re asked questions. They’re not compulsory or required.»

«Information is readily available,» noted McMillan, regarding sex education and other health issues. «But a lot of it may not be accurate. The fact is that we can provide accurate information and that is going to help these children make health choices.» Theministry released online copies of the new curriculumonMay 3. Whilemajor me- dia have reported concerns about the new curriculum from some individual parents or parent groups in larger urban centres, the UCDSB and CDSBEO have had little or no feedback so far. «There doesn’t seem to be as deep a concern from themajority of parents,» said McMillan. Both he and Laton noted that parents who do have concerns about the revised curriculum can contact their local school principals and, if they wish, exer- cise their option not to have their children take part during classroom exercises when certain subjects involving health and sex education come up.

Ontario schools have a new curriculum guide for health, fitness and sex education programs for both elementary and secon- dary students. The revised sex education part of the curriculum has already raised eyebrows elsewhere in the province but, at present in EasternOntario, officials for the two English-language school districts see no problemwith presenting the new curri- culum to students starting in the fall term. Both JeffMcMillan, chairman for the Up- per Canada District School Board (UCDSB), and Brent Laton, Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario chairman (CDS- BEO), said during phone interviews that the revised curriculum is not that much different from the current health and fitness curriculum that came into effect for Ontario schools in the late 1990s. Most of the revi- sions, including those for the sex educa- tion component which deal with alternate lifestyles, are designed to help students be aware of social changes and the increasing emphasis on not just tolerance but accep- tance of and respecting individuals who have different lifestyles from the majority where those lifestyles do not conflict or pose harm to others. «A lot of people I deal with are comfor- table with it,» said McMillan, regarding the new curriculum which goes into effect during the 2015-2016 term. «They see it as

Jeff McMillan, UCDSB chairman

factual information for the health and well- being of our students.The basics are already covered in the curriculum from 1998.» Laton noted that the CDSBEO is working with the Institute for Catholic Education, a focus group that assists Catholic school districts, to make use of ministry-supplied resources that will allow presentation of the revised curriculum«with respect to Catholic values.» He also noted that the current cur- riculumhas worked well with the CDSBEO’s

Work-to-rule action The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) launched phase one of a work-to-rule strike action on May 11. The union announced Monday its members, which includes both full-time and on-call teachers, would carry out their usual classroom duties, including providing extra help for students who need it, and also maintain contact with parents. Voluntary duties such as taking part in extracurricular field trips will also continue for now. But they would not perform some specific activities related to their jobs such as Ministry of Education EQAO testing or making personal notes on report cards. The union’s job action will affect all 32 of Ontario’s English public school boards. The union warned in a news release that its strike-action plan will escalate if the ministry and the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association do not budge on certain bargaining issues.

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