NTO, Ontario, April 22, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After intense criticism in recent days, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced this afternoon that he has decided to delay implementing the government's controversial and explicit new elementary sex ed curriculum.
"It's become pretty obvious to us that we need to give this a serious rethink,” he told reporters. He admitted that the changes in the new curriculum had been communicated poorly, and noted that parents were clearly distressed over it. The government must "find a policy and a curriculum that [parents are] comfortable with,” he said.
“The net we cast in terms of consulting was too narrow,” he added.
The curriculum, which is the first new version in the province since 1998, was quietly posted to the Ministry of Education's website in January, without a summary of the changes. It had been slated to be implemented in all Ontario schools by September.
The program as currently laid out sees sex ed begin in grade 1, with the naming of genitalia and other body parts. By grade 3, students were to learn about “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” and by grade 7 they would discuss oral and anal intercourse and learn about the use of condoms.
McGuinty strongly defended the program this week following criticism from a coalition of pro-family groups, even to the point of insisting Wednesday that it was mandatory for the province's publicly-funded Catholic schools.
The Catholic bishops of Ontario and at least one Catholic school board reacted strongly to that assertion. Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa called for “a firestorm of response” from Catholic parents, and the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario denied that Catholic schools would teach elements that violated Catholic teaching. Further, Jan Bentham of the Ottawa Catholic school board said the Premier “seems to be misinformed,” and that her school board would not implement the curriculum.
Jane Almeida, a spokesperson for McGuinty, told LifeSiteNews (LSN) that the Premier has decided to hold more consultations with parent groups, and that there is no timeline yet on when a new curriculum would be implemented. “He has said that he understands that parents of all faiths have expressed concerns over this, and that maybe they didn't have sufficient time to look at the information provided,” she told LSN.
Asked if Catholic stakeholders would be included in the renewed consultations, Almeida said, “I'm sure that they would be involved in those discussions.”
McGuinty still defended the need to revise the existing program, however. "I think we all prefer that if they're going to access that information, we take the opportunity to present it in a thoughtful, responsible way -- and in an age-appropriate way in our classrooms," he said, reports CTV.
The final result, said the Premier, "remains the subject of some debate and some concern, and we're going to take the time to get that right.”
Dalton McGuinty, Premier
Toronto ON M7A 1A1
Fax: (416) 325-3745
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