News Ontario | 1.27.15
BY ANTONELLA ARTUSO, QUEEN'S PARK BUREAU CHIEF
TORONTO - Ontario’s new sex curriculum will provide students starting in Grade 1 with the basic building blocks of consent, Premier Kathleen Wynne says.
Toronto students Lia Valente and Tessa Hill, who started a petition to have consent included in the new physical education and health curriculum, met with Wynne Monday.
The premier confirmed that it’s a topic that will be introduced to the youngest learners with lessons about understanding facial expressions and listening to each other, and continue through to older grades.
“The updated curriculum will contain deeper learning related to a host of important issues — healthy relationships, consent, mental health, online safety and the risks of sexting,” Wynne said. “These are the issues that students like Lia and Tessa navigate every single day and we want to give them the resources that they need to live healthy, fulfilling lives.”
A revamped sex ed curriculum was pulled by former premier Dalton McGuinty after many parents raised concerns about the explicit information it contained and the young age at which it was to be taught.
Wynne has promised her government will come forward with a new sex ed curriculum this fall.
“I want to make sure that we have a curriculum in place that gives young people the opportunity to learn about healthy relationships,” she said. “And I want students to understand what it means to say no and what it means to give active consent.”
Valente and Hill said their petition began as a project into the “rape culture” in media.
“It’s unrealistic to teach abstinence and it’s really important to teach consent,” Hill said.
Consent means more than just not saying no, Valente said.
“Consent is basically asking permission but it terms of sex ed, the curriculum, we’re asking it to teach a lot more than just asking for permission,” Valente said. “It’s understanding what is a clear, enthusiastic, affirmative yes in consent ... so understanding body language and facial expressions ... and it doesn’t matter what the person is wearing.
“Also, when consent isn’t valid — when the other person is under the use of alcohol or drugs, then their consent even as a verbal yes it isn’t valid,” she said. “People need to learn that.”
So far, their petition has garnered about 37,000 signatures.