By Ian Burns and Rebecca Hamill Nobrega
Protestors were in full voice outside Queen’s Park on Tuesday in order to express their opposition to the Ontario government’s new sexual education curriculum.
The revised curriculum was released by Education Minister Liz Sandals on Monday, and contains issues such as puberty, relationships, gender identity, masturbation and homosexuality.
According to Campaign Life Coalition, an anti-abortion group, the protest was “organized by average parents who are concerned that the Liberal government’s grade 1 to 8 curriculum will sexualize children.”
Ontario PC leadership candidates Monte McNaughton and Patrick Brown also spoke at the rally.
Hassan and Sanna Ismail both took sick days off work and drove in from Hamilton in order to come to Queen’s Park.
“It’s sick,” said Hassan. “This kind of teaching will destroy children’s minds.”
Nancy Kelly told Humber News she felt it was up to parents to instruct children on sexuality.
“It’s up to parents to instruct children [on sex], not the government,” she said. “They need to be doing this in their own way.”
There was an equally vocal group of counter-protestors at the event, who were supportive of the government’s changes to the sex ed curriculum.
Faelis Kaye, a trans woman, said receiving education about such issues as gender identity would have helped her in high school.
“I would have come out much sooner,” she said.
Kaye said she felt that much of the rhetoric coming from those opposed to the new curriculum was bigotry.
Susan Gapka, who supports the new curriculum, said she is happy it is now being introduced after it was scrapped in 2010 following opposition from several religious groups.
“It showed a lack of courage then,” said Gapka. “I’m glad they’re doing it.”
Mother of four Christine Olding said she was not opposed to changing the curriculum, but felt that the topics of masturbation and homosexuality were not being taught at an age-appropriate level.
“It’s not like people don’t need to know this,” she said. “I just think it should be done according to their level of maturity.”
The government said the revised curriculum will be in place by September 2015.