The mental and physical health of children will be put at risk if the Ontario government moves back to the 1998 sexual education curriculum.
That’s the expert assessment of registered nurses (RNs), nurse practitioners (NPs) and nursing students from the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) who are joining forces in demanding the government continue to use the modernized curriculum that was introduced in 2015 – and not the outdated 1998 curriculum as Premier Ford has announced.
“It is irresponsible to do away with the current version and revert to a 20-year-old sexual education curriculum that doesn’t address today’s realities of the Internet, smartphones and social media. If children are going to be safe and healthy, they need to learn about consent, sexual orientation, gender identity, as well as the dangers of cyberbullying, online predators, and sexting,” says RNAO president Angela Cooper Brathwaite. “It’s the only way we can make sure they have the information and skills they need to protect themselves and those around them from abuse, sexual assault and different forms of bullying.”
RNAO’s CEO Doris Grinspun says children also need to see themselves and their families reflected in teaching materials used in classrooms. Grinspun says the updated curriculum addresses “crucial human rights such as the legalization of same sex marriage and protection of sexual and gender diversity rights. These elements are essential for educating young people today and protecting them and their families from discrimination.”
Grinspun says members of the association are so shocked by the new government’s decision that more than 1,200 have already responded to an action alert sent by RNAO last evening. “Our message to Premier Ford is simple: Going back to an outdated 1998 curriculum will hurt and may even kill children. It is a responsibility that you assume as premier of Ontario.”
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve. For more information about RNAO, visit RNAO.ca or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.