On Oct. 1, thousands of parents across Ontario kept their children home from school as part of a day of action organized by the Canadian Families Alliance to protest the new Ontario sex-ed curriculum being implemented this year in all taxpayer-funded schools in Ontario.
According to the CFA, 12 Catholic boards and 13 public boards across Ontario were affected by the student strike, and it announced that what they are calling “Black Days” will be held province-wide every month for the rest of the school year.
The early sex-ed curriculum which includes lessons on same-sex relationships in Grade 3 and that masturbation is a “pleasurable” form of self-exploration in Grade 6. The curriculum also introduces the theory of “gender fluidity” in Grade 6, which says that being a boy or girl is a “social construct” unrelated to biology.
Retired Catholic schoolteacher and CFA spokesperson Lou Iacobelli says the problem with the curriculum is that it “violates parental rights and cultural values.”
While Education Minister Liz Sandals claimed that parents have the right to remove students from classes to which they object, several school superintendents contradicted the minister, and in Hamilton, Steve Tourloukis has sued the school board for the right to be informed of sex-ed classes and to remove his children from them. He launched his suit in 2012 and it has not yet been heard by the courts.
Christina Liu, a member of Parents Alliance of Ontario, said the new curriculum “is promoting ‘sexual freedom.’ It is not promoting sexual health, as is being claimed by our provincial government.” She said by teaching sexual behaviours without acknowledging their risks, the curriculum imperils the health of children.
The largest protest was at the Thorncliffe Park elementary school in the riding of Ontario Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne, where more than half of the student population was absent from school, according to a report on CTV.
On the same day as the student strike, Wynne told the Toronto Sun that her critics were motivated by homophobia: “the values of the vast majority of people in Ontario are not ones of homophobia,” she told the paper, but there is “a group of people trying to stir up these very destructive and divisive attitudes.” It appeared that she was talking specifically about the parents and protesters in her own riding, which has a large and vocal Muslim community opposed to the sex-ed curriculum changes.
The Thorncliffe Parents Association announced that they will keep their kids out of school all October, which had been ongoing since Sept. 8. Parents teach children in a nearby park so they do not fall behind in their studies. About 200 children are being kept out of school by these parents, and an estimated 300 children are now being educated in private schools.
The school administration there has also played the homophobia card. Thorncliffe Park Public School principal Jeff Crane told the CBC’s Metro Morning program on Sept. 30, that he was frustrated by the protests and while some parents sincerely believe that “some of this content is being presented too early to students,” he also chastised “the other extreme” of parents who believe “this is a homosexual indoctrination of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne wants half of Ontario gay by the time she’s done.” TPA President Khalid Mahmood denied the allegation, telling LifeSiteNews that his group “has no issue with same-sex attracted teachers” and to allege that would be “pure slander.”
He and Campaign Life Coalition’s Jack Fonseca both maintain that attacking parents as homophobes is part of a Liberal smear campaign, in the words of Mahmood, “to damage the reputation of parents who oppose the controversial curriculum.” Fonseca noted that Wynne resorted to similar attacks on parents in February when the protests first began. He said the premier is wrong to be “attacking the very parents she claims to have consulted.”
Both the Thorncliffe Park parents and the Canadian Families Alliance do criticize what they call the curriculum’s promotion of the LGBTQ lifestyle. Mahmood said the curriculum teaches “values to our children that contradict our deeply-held moral and religious beliefs.”
Progressive Conservative MPP Monte McNaughton (Lambton–Kent–Middlesex) says, “it is unthinkable and inexcusable that the government refuses to acknowledge the concerns that hundreds of thousands of people have shared over this issue.” In February, when McNaughton first raised the issue of the age-inappropriate material in the sex-ed curriculum and argued that as first educators, parents should decide how and when matters of sexuality are taught to their kids, Wynne and her partner Jane Rounthwaite attacked the MPP as homophobic and he responded noting “this premier’s taken this to a very personal level.”