Ontario government releases updated sexual-education curriculum

TORONTO — The Ontario government has released the new sexual−education curriculum, replacing a much−criticized teaching plan brought in after the Progressive Conservatives took power last year.

A statement from the province Wednesday said the curriculum for Grades 1 to 8 has been updated following feedback from the public and consultation with experts.

The sex−ed curriculum comes after an interim teaching plan based on 1998 materials was put in place after the 2015 curriculum from the previous Liberal government was repealed.

The Tories scrapped the modernized curriculum that addressed consent, online bullying, sexting, same−sex relationships and gender identity.

The new document will return to teaching those lessons, but in some cases will do so when students are older.

The curriculum will also include teachings on cannabis and concussions.

Minister of Education Stephen Lecce is expected to make the announcement of the new curriculum with a focus on online safety.

“We want to make sure that as young people turn online for academics, for socializing, and entertainment they’ve got the self-confidence and the tools to stay safe,” said Lecce in a video posted on Twitter on Tuesday.

Education Minister said in a statement that the new teaching plan will “keep kids safe in and outside of the classroom.”

Parents will be able to opt out of having their kids exposed to certain topics in the sex−ed class, such as “human development” lessons, and the government will issue online resources for those who want guidance on discussing those topics at home.

“Parents are the primary educators of their children and are their children’s first role models. It is important that schools and parents work together so that both home and school provide a supportive framework for young people’s education,” said a statement from the curriculum’s overview.

The province is requiring school boards to have an exemption policy by the end of November.

The government is also boasting that the curriculum includes enhanced teaching on mental health and “social−emotional learning skills.”

The Canadian Press