Parents opposed to the sex-ed curriculum written under the auspices of convicted sex-offender Benjamin Levin, the former deputy minister of education, and implemented in Ontario’s schools by former Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne in 2016, descended on Queen’s Park last month to call for a full repeal of the curriculum and the resignation of the current Education Minister, Lisa Thompson. The problems with the curriculum are well-known toInterim readers, but as a brief reminder, the classroom instructions encourage premature sexual curiosity and experimentation, and promotes the unscientific gender theory which holds that there are multiple genders and that they have nothing to do with a person’s biological sex.
Many of these Ontario families at Queen’s Park on Feb. 20 – along with thousands of other concerned parents — joined the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party last year to vote for Tanya Granic Allen and Doug Ford, the two leadership contenders who promised to repeal the sex-ed curriculum and start over with a new, genuine consultation that respected the voice of parents. Ford narrowly won the leadership over Christine Elliott precisely because these pro-parental rights Ontarians voted for him. In the provincial election, tens of thousands of concerned parents voted for Doug Ford’s PCs precisely because they believed him when he made the commitment to scrap the curriculum.
Unfortunately, that commitment has not been honoured. Sure, the Ford government announced the curriculum was repealed during its Throne Speech last July, but nothing the Education Ministry had done since then has reinforced that policy. Just four days later, Education Minister Lisa Thompson undermined that promise when, under intense questioning from the opposition NDP, she said schools could still teach gender theory. In the following few months, she informed school boards wondering how to proceed to teach sex ed that teachers could use the supposedly scrapped curriculum as a resource to prepare for health classes in which sexual instruction would take place (never mind that the curriculum used until 2015 did not include sex-ed for elementary school children); she released an interim curriculum that mentions gender theory at least eight times, which, at best, sends confusing signals about whether the Ford government is committed to removing gender theory from the curriculum; had her Ministry of Education lawyers tell the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal that (self-identifying) transgender students have nothing to fear because teachers can still teach material from the (supposedly abandoned) Wynne sex-ed curriculum. As Tanya Granic Allen told the demonstration at Queen’s Park, nothing in the problematic curriculum that Premier Doug Ford promised to repeal has changed.
As for the consultations, there was little reason to have any faith in them. They were not focused on sex-ed, but were rather wide-ranging. The website-based questionnaire, while an improvement over the loaded questions asked by the Wynne government, was still leading. There were numerous reports that the telephone town halls seemed biased against those opposed to sex-ed. All this falls under the purview of the Minister of Education.
During the leadership race last year, Doug Ford was questioned by Andrew Lawton in a radio interview about the curriculum. He restated his criticism that it was “liberal ideology” and scoffed at the idea there are multiple genders. Ford understood the issue then; the question is whether it was a cynical ploy to win pro-life and pro-family voters or represented his genuine opposition to the curriculum?
Under our Westminster parliamentary system, ministerial responsibility is paramount. Lisa Thompson has held her post of Education Minister for seven months and has done nothing but undermine – a less charitable take might say sabotage – Ford’s commitment to the parents who voted for him because of his opposition to the Wynne sex-ed agenda. The protesters at Queen’s Park called on Lisa Thompson to resign, but we must respectfully disagree. Premier Doug Ford should demonstrate his commitment to fully repealing the sex-ed curriculum by firing Lisa Thompson; she deserves neither the right to continue in the post nor the privilege of a face-saving resignation. And Ford could signal he was serious when he called the curriculum “liberal ideology” and demand the next minister of education toss all vestiges of the Wynne sex-ed curriculum into the rubbish heap. Lisa Thompson must go, and Ford should show her the door.