Ontario’s Roll-Back on Sex-Ed Puts Health and Lives at Risk

Teenage African American male wearing a plaid button-up shirt sitting at a desk in class. He is writing in a notebook on his desk using a pencil. Around him are his classmates, also writing on their papers. They are all concentrating on their own work.

This September, Ontario will revert to an outdated 1998 sex-ed curriculum and young people’s health is on the line.

Ontario is being thrown back to the dark age of sex-ed: As of September, Ontario students will receive one of the most outdated curriculums in Canada, compared to other provinces and territories.

By reverting to a 20-year old curriculum, Ontario is compromising young people’s ability to live safe and healthy lives – and violating their human rights. Every young person in Canada has a right to high-quality, evidence-based, comprehensive sex ed. Governments, as duty-bearers, have an obligation to ensure laws and policy comply with international human rights law, which includes the right to health, information and non-discrimination. Compromising sex-ed compromises those rights. A high-quality sex-ed curriculum is not controversial. It is a human right.

Most parents in Canada support sex-ed. In 2014, 94% of parents in Ontario strongly agreed that sex-ed should be taught in school. In New Brunswick, in 2002, the rate was 94%, in Saskatchewan in 2008 it was 92%. But their majority voices are being overshadowed by a small but loud minority who are undermining the rights of young people, of women and of LGBTQ2+ people and communities.

Research also shows that that young people want guidance on more than just “the birds and the bees” or how to put a condom on a banana. Healthy relationships, HIV and sexual pleasure were among the top areas young people said they wanted to learn about in the 2015 Toronto Teen Survey — but less than 30 per cent had learned about healthy relationships, and not one person reported learning about sexual pleasure.

Providing comprehensive sex-ed is not about special interests or politics. It is about making sure that young people receive the information they need and are entitled to in order to live safe, healthy and fulfilling lives.

As a national advocacy organization working to defend and promote sexual and reproductive rights, Action Canada will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the right of all young people to comprehensive sexuality education is fulfilled, no matter where they live.

For Media Inquiries please contact:

Ani Colekessian
613-241-4474 ext 7

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