OPINION: Monte’s ‘army’ out of touch

Tara Jeffrey

Monte McNaughton isn’t doing himself any favours in his fight to stop a long-overdue sex-ed curriculum revision from reaching our schools.

The Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP and PC leadership hopeful has touted himself as the lone MPP leading the charge against Premier Kathleen Wynne’s “radical” sex-ed curriculum, calling on “an army of parents to defeat this agenda.”

McNaughton, who was accused last week of making homophobic comments aimed at Wynne — who is openly gay — has joined forces with the Campaign for Life Coalition — a Conservative Christian Pro-life group on a mission to stop the curriculum, arguing that topics like homosexuality and gender identity will cause “serious sexual confusion in the minds of children” and will “normalize” homosexual unions.

Newsflash, Monte: homosexuality is normal. Will discussing it in the classroom make our kids come home and decide to be gay? No.

Will talking about sex in a safe, educational environment lead our daughters down a moral-less path to promiscuity? Nope.

Does the topic of gender identity have a place in our school systems in 2015? Absolutely. In fact, the Lambton Kent District School Board recently implemented a gender-neutral washroom in one of its high schools, in an effort to accompany transgendered students and offer “dignified options for everyone.”

 

It’s been nearly 20 years since Ontario’s sex-ed curriculum was last updated, making it the oldest in Canada. At the time, kids didn’t have cell phones, Facebook, or Snapchat. Cyberbullying and sexting weren’t even words yet. Mental health was rarely discussed and girls weren’t entering puberty at the rapid pace they are today. The World Health Organization has found that providing kids with comprehensive sexual health information actually helps prevent early sexual activity and negative health outcomes.

With all the hype surrounding the supposed “graphic nature” of this curriculum, McNaughton and his army are ignoring some of its key achievements, which include consent, strategies for safe Internet use, online harassment and abuse, violence in gaming/media, privacy protection, body image and a much-needed emphasis on mental health, and reducing the stigma around mental illness.

As the parent of a child entering the school system this fall, I have read the new document in its entirety, and am thrilled my kids will have the opportunity to learn these things in a safe, educational environment.

Good luck with your army, Monte. I have a feeling you may be needing it.

Tara Jeffrey is a wife, mother and writer in Sarnia-Lambton