The new consultation process announced by the Provincial Government, to review changes to the 2015 Health & Physical Education Curriculum raises many significant concerns.
Limited opportunities for meaningful consultation
According to the announcement, consultations will be done via an online survey, regional telephone town halls, and are to be organized by interested community members who can than submit their “dedicated submissions packages”. These consultations methods severely lack opportunities for the direct, representative participation of youth, educators, parents, community organizations and health experts. This process does not provide any opportunity for meaningful, interactive, and critical discussions, and raises questions about the reliability of the consultation’s findings.
Attack on Education Workers
The implementation of a cynical tip line, where parents can report teachers and others teaching the 2015 curriculum is an unacceptable, divisive move to pressurize teachers into teaching out of date, harmful material. Not only does this tip line negate work already being done by local school boards and the Ontario College of Teachers, but it also leaves teachers open to unsubstantiated attacks on their professionalism and judgement. Our school communitieshave still not been provided proper clarification on what can and cannot be discussed in classrooms, and this announcement creates an environment of fear and uncertainty, making our children and youth unsafe and our education workers vulnerable to targeted discrimination.
Lack of representation
These consultations are focused on hearing only the concerns of parents but the curriculum should be developed with consultation from experts and educators as well. The real focus should be on the safety and well-being of our children and youth. These consultations will impact the development of the curriculum, which directly impacts the lives and safety of Ontario students. The consultations are focused on the protection of the rights of parents, and do not take into account the safety and rights of children, youth, and LGBTQ2S families, or the input of health and education experts. All people have a right to be safe from homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, sexual assault, and physical abuse. This includes Ontario’s children. The consultation framework does not consider those critical human rights in its design or intention.
There is an urgent need for us to find ways to keep our children and our communities safe, today and for the times to come. It is now that we must act to have the backs of Ontario’s children, youth, and educators. We ask you to join us at www.wehaveyourbackontario.org