I recently decided to read through the Ontario Health and Physical Education document to see what all the fuss was about regarding the presentation of “Human Development and Sexual Health” to Ontario’s Grades 1 to 8 children — children who range from 6 years of age to 13 years of age.
Here are the learning topics, slightly shortened, according to grade level and applicable page numbers. My short analysis is in my Endnotes.
Grade 1 — Section C1.3 — Identity of body parts, including genitalia (P.93)
Grade 2 — Section C1.4 — Outline of the basic stages of human development and related bodily changes. Also, identity factors that are important for healthy growth and living throughout life. (P.108)
Grade 3 — Section C. 3.3 — Describe how visible differences and invisible differences make each person unique, and identify ways of showing respect for differences in others. (P.124)
Grade 4 — Section C1.5 — Describe the physical changes that occur in males and females at puberty and the emotional and social impacts that may result from these changes. (P.141)
Grade 5 — Section C2.4 — Describe emotional and interpersonal stresses related to puberty and identify strategies that they can apply to manage stress, build resilience, and enhance their mental health and emotional well-being. (P.158)
Grade 6 — Section C3.3 — Assess the effects of stereotypes, including homophobia and assumptions regarding gender roles and expectations, sexual orientation, gender expression, race, ethnicity or culture, mental health, and abilities, on an individual’s self-concept, social inclusion, and relationships with others, and propose appropriate ways of responding to and changing assumptions and stereotypes. (P.177)
Grade 7 —
- Section 1.3 — Explain the importance of having a shared understanding with a partner about the following: delaying sexual activity until they are older; the reasons for not engaging in sexual activity; the concept of consent and how consent is communicated; and, in general, the need to communicate clearly with each other when making decisions about sexual activity in the relationship. (P.195)
- Section C1.4 — Identify common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and describe their symptoms. (P.196)
- Section C1.5 — Identify ways of preventing STIs, including HIV, and/or unintended pregnancy, such as delaying first intercourse and other sexual activities until a person is older and using condoms consistently if and when a person becomes sexually active. (P.196)
- Section C2.4 –Demonstrate an understanding of physical, emotional, social, and psychological factors that need to be considered when making decisions related to sexual health. (P.199)
Grade 8 —
- Section C1.4 — Identify and explain factors that can affect an individual’s decisions about sexual activity and identify sources of support regarding sexual health, a community elder, a teacher, a religious leader, a parent or other trusted adult, a reputable website). (P.215)
- Section C1.5 — Demonstrate an understanding of gender identity (e.g., male, female, two-spirited, transgender, transsexual, intersex), gender expression, and sexual orientation (e.g., heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual), and identify factors that can help individuals of all identities and orientations develop a positive self-concept. (P.216)
- Section C2.4 — Demonstrate an understanding of aspects of sexual health and safety, including contraception and condom use for pregnancy and STI prevention, the concept of consent, and matters they need to consider and skills they need to use in order to make safe and healthy decisions about sexual activity. (P.218)
- Section C3.3 — Analyse the attractions and benefits associated with being in a relationship, as well as the benefits, risks, and drawbacks, for themselves and others, of relationships involving different degrees of sexual intimacy. (P.220)
For summary tables of the relevant topics, see pages 224 and 225 of the document.
Endnotes: For the most part, this curriculum document is thorough and well presented up to Grade 6. In fact, I would give that part of the document an “A.” However, I would give the Grades 7 and 8 section a “B” at most because of the very lack of inclusiveness it claims to cover, as well as being way over the top as far as what topics the government is expecting teachers to teach — as opposed to health care workers and/or parents.
Moreover, I would think having male and female students learning these topics together would sometimes be acutely embarrassing. At least that was my experience when I was teaching this subject in the public system when I first started teaching.
However, regarding the lack of inclusiveness, by basing most of the content regarding gender identity on the notion of gender as always being socially constructed, this curriculum document excludes all people of faith and what they might believe about being male or female, as well as such scientific biological and genetic evidence as XY and XX chromosomes.
Whatever. The crux of the matter is that this document is not going to be changed. In fact, even if the Ontario PCs were to gain power in 2018, they would not be able to change very much because the sexual and gender politics embedded in it are now law within the Ontario Human Rights Code — meaning that train has already left the station.