Teachers can either teach the 2014 sexual education curriculum or be dragged in front of the Ontario College of Teachers and face a disciplinary hearing, the provincial government has said.
The tough talk comes from Premier Doug Ford, who cautioned teachers against using “children as pawns for grandstanding or political games” and warned educators that anyone caught “failing to do their job” will be punished.
In July, the Progressive Conservative government repealed the most current sex-ed curriculum, which had been overhauled in 2015, saying the former Liberal government updated the course plan without consulting parents.
In a news release issued Wednesday, the government said they will be setting up a website so that parents can lodge complaint against teachers. All complaints submitted to ForTheParents.ca will be reviewed by the Ontario College of Teachers, which is tasked with investigating instances of misconduct or incompetence.
“Our government will be prepared to take regulatory and legislative action to ensure that the rights of parents are protected.” Education Minister Lisa Thompson said in a statement.
The 2014 curriculum was largely formed in 1998. In a bid to satiate concerns that it isn’t progressive enough to deal with modern realities, the province is allowing to teachers to discuss topics such as gender identity, sexual orientation and homophobia.
However, students will not be expected to use body part terminology, or learn about self-pleasure and consent.
The government will also begin a “province-wide public consultation” in September. The consultation process will include an online survey, telephone town halls, and a submission platform.
Ford has said previously that the sex-ed consultation his government plans to hold will be “the largest consultation ever in Ontario‘s history when it comes to education."
Members of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) have called the plan to revert to the 1998 curriculum “irresponsible, discriminatory” and unsafe. At a rally held on Aug 14., ETFO President Sam Hammond urged members to use “professional judgement” when teaching the curriculum.
“We want to be on the right side of history in terms of this, in terms of our students. We need to – and there is a professional responsibility for us – to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students on an ongoing basis,” Hammond told CP24 at the rally. “We’re going to stand up for the rights our members have across this province and we’re going to defend them.”
The 1998 curriculum does not include topics such as online bullying, sexting, and consent.
The provincial government has said that a new curriculum will be in place for the 2019-2020 school year.