sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (candle salad)
[personal profile] sabotabby
It's a rare day—and especially in the middle of some acrimonious contract negotiations with my union—that I'll say something nice about the Ontario Liberal government. But here it is: They updated the antediluvian Grade 1-8 sex ed curriculum and it's pretty good. It needed to be done and the changes are thoughtful and vital, including information about LGBTQ sexuality and affirmative consent. So, yay government on this one particular specific issue! You done good! You are terrible and corrupt when it comes to mostly everything else, but I can rest assured that you are sensible when it comes to the health education of young children, and I genuinely do appreciate that.

If you are interested and have enough time on your hands that you want to read really dull Ministry curriculum documents, you can read it here. It's not very interesting unless you're a teacher or a parent but there you go—it's totally public information and you can read it for free.

You know who didn't read it, though? Most people with an opinion about it.

Naturally, when I Googled "ontario sex education curriculum," the curriculum itself was not the first search result. Or the second, or the third. It's at least halfway down the page. The top hits are about protests—very sympathetically covered by the media, in contrast to how left-wing protests are covered—and misinformation by the likes of extremist anti-abortion and right-wing hate groups. This thing has been incredibly controversial, with said hate groups appearing on mainstream media with absurd claims that the new curriculum teaches seven-year-olds how to buttsex. (Spoiler: No it doesn't.)

One thing that would probably seem weird to an outsider is the support that the Tories (and make no mistake—these are not grassroots concern groups coming out of nowhere with no political agenda out of concern for THE CHILDRENS) have amongst marginalized and immigrant communities. I mean, you would think that a party of almost exclusively rich white men who hate people of colour, restrict immigration, have actual ties to white supremacist groups in some cases, and starve poor communities would not be well-liked by the people they make a living disparaging. But they do! And this is by design.

I'm reading Kill the Messengers: Stephen Harper's assault on your right to know, by Mark Bourrie, and there is a fascinating chapter as to why this is the case. Harper has a famous mistrust of journalists and believes that the mainstream media is a Liberal conspiracy that's out to get him, and one of the things he's been able to do in his tenure is to craft his message mainly towards the ethnic language media. So he will say one thing to Tamil language media, and another thing to Chinese language media, and so on, depending on whose votes he wants to win, and these are all tiny publications and stations that are basically just excited to get exclusive interviews with major politicians, so they softball interviews and don't have the budget to fact-check. It's completely brilliant and lets the Tories pander to various communities while actually enacting policies that directly harm them.

So when I see stories about how Ontario parents are staging a "strike" over the new sex-ed curriculum, I don't think I'm particularly conspiracy-minded to suspect a greater manipulation at work. I mean, let's be honest; it's pretty impressive if parents of young children can organize a bake sale to raise a few hundred dollars for their child's school, let alone a province-wide movement. Someone is out there, spreading lies and misinformation and playing the fears of parents to score electoral points. And it's working, because our mainstream media is not, in fact, a well-oiled Liberal machine and is actually an uncritical, bare-bones, defunded dinosaur gasping for its last breath as the meteors strike.

Who loses in this? Ontario, because this is all in service of eventually electing a Tory government that will be even worse than the abominable Liberal government. And most of all, the very children that these poor dupes want to protect. Every study ever done points to poor sex education as a major factor in teen pregnancy and the spread of STDs. And even more dramatically, I think this curriculum, properly implemented, is a crucial step in building a culture of positive consent that will pay off when these kids are teenagers and experimenting with sex for the first time. Teaching young kids that "yes means yes" means a future where not as many boys will think they're entitled to girls' bodies, and not as many girls will think it's their fault because he bought them dinner. Not as many queer and trans kids will grow up thinking that they're abnormal. This is a net gain for everyone, except for the backwards reactionaries.

Which is maybe why we need to reframe the debate. Instead of "concerned parents," let's focus on the manipulators behind the scenes and their pro-rape, homophobic, transphobic agenda. While sex ed is always a controversial thing, the butthurt of a few uptight pearl-clutchers has never made quite so many headlines in modern Canada, so follow the money. Who is really holding the kids hostage to make a political point?

Date: 2015-05-02 03:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
When I first watched coverage on the protests, I just got angry at everyone and had to stop paying attention.

You have these idiots worried their 8 year old girl has to share a washroom with another 8 year old girl with a penis. And the hateful signs! Then there's the Minister of Education looking down her nose at everyone.

And CTV just laps up and dishes it out (cherry picking rebuttals for their amusement)

Date: 2015-05-02 04:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The other day, I saw a clip of a '75 news report on the "Fall" of Saigon with Mike Duffy and Peter Kent. And I nearly threw up.

Date: 2015-05-02 03:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I can only imagine how bad the antediluvian sex ed curriculum was. People were terribly wicked back them, before the flood.

Date: 2015-05-02 04:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Postdiluvian was pretty crazy. Noah wasn't a great role model of sobriety and modesty.

Date: 2015-05-02 05:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I mean, you would think that a party of almost exclusively rich white men who hate people of colour, restrict immigration, have actual ties to white supremacist groups in some cases, and starve poor communities would not be well-liked by the people they make a living disparaging. But they do!

This has frustrated me so much all my life. UGH.

*cheers you on*
*cheers better sex ed on*

Date: 2015-05-02 05:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Good for the Ontario government on this, and yeah, sounds like your suspicions are well-placed. I suspect rather fewer kids will actually be withheld from school than those 7500 "likes" suggest.

Date: 2015-05-12 01:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Okay, I did read the whole thing (well, okay, I skimmed the bits involving phys-ed that I wasn't interested in), and no, it doesn't teach even the Grade 12's how to butt-sex, sheesh. It barely says anything, and certainly doesn't say anything I think worth making a fuss over. It acknowledges that not everyone is straight and that not all relationships are heterosexual; and that it can be isolating for non-straight people to have the default assumption be straight.

Here's my favourite bit, from page 104:

C1.5 demonstrate an understanding of factors (e.g., acceptance, stigma, culture, religion, media, stereotypes, homophobia, self-image, self-awareness) that can influence a person’s understanding of their gender identity (e.g., male, female, two-spirited, transgender, transsexual, intersex) and sexual orientation (e.g., heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual), and identify sources of support for all students [PS]

Teacher prompt: “Gender identity refers to a person’s sense of self, with respect to being
male or female, both, or neither, and may be different from biological or birth-assigned
sex. Sexual orientation refers to how people think of themselves in terms of their sexual
and romantic attraction to others. What determines a person’s sense of self? How do
social expectations and stereotypes about gender and sexuality influence how a person
may feel about their gender identity or sexual orientation?”

Students: “A person’s sense of self is affected by the person’s cultural and family background,
religion, and what they have come to value. Media images, role models, support systems,
and acceptance or lack of acceptance by others could influence how different people
feel about their gender identity or sexual orientation.” “Expectations or assumptions about masculinity and femininity and about heterosexuality as the norm can affect the self-image of those who do not fit those expectations or assumptions. This can make it difficult for a person to feel accepted by others.”

Teacher: “What are some sources of support for students who may be questioning their
gender identity or sexual orientation?”

Students: “Talking to other young people dealing with the same issues can be a great start.
It’s important to know that you are not alone. Many communities have organizations that
provide services for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth, as well as for those
who are questioning their gender identity or sexual orientation and for allies who support
them. School guidance counsellors, health professionals, and trusted adults and friends can
also help.” “Student-led clubs, such as gay-straight alliances, can make a big difference.
As individuals, we can help by always treating each other fairly and with respect. In our
society it is important to respect and accept the rights of all.”

When I was a kid, I didn't even know gay was a thing. Or trans. I barely was aware as a teen that guys could be gay; I had no idea girls could be too. Which made figuring out my gender identity a terribly confusing, isolating experience. Hell, here I am in my mid-forties and I'm still sorting it out. You have no idea what a relief it would have been, as a kid, to have come across the term "two-spirited." And I'm so glad it's not just talking about gay or straight, but also mentioning lesbians (as I said, I didn't realize there was an equivalent for women, although kids these days are probably more likely to have come across the term, although who knows what actual info they have about it), trans people, and others.

All in all, I think it's a fantastic step forward that desperately needed to be taken. I also don't think it's worth getting all fucking butt-hurt over it. OMG, not everyone is straight or fits gender norms. There are places that can help and we should try to be nice to everyone. WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN.

Date: 2015-05-12 10:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, that's the thing, isn't it? Not telling kids about teh gay doesn't stop them being gay (or other non-heterosexual/gender-queer); it just makes them, at best, confused and unhappy.

At worst, it kills them.

In high school I had a friend jump off a bridge on the way home on his eighteenth birthday. He was straight (he had a crush on me); but he was insecure about his height, so he wore cowboy boots (which gave him a slightly mincing walk); and he wanted to be a fashion designer. So it was widely assumed that he was gay; and he was systemically harassed by the other kids over years and years until he finally couldn't take it anymore. The poor guy was literally hounded to the point of suicide for being gay and he wasn't even gay.

I do not like or want any system that allows or condones bullying for any reason (I was heavily bullied myself; it would be nice if we were the last generation to have to suffer through that) but I especially, really, deeply object to anyone trying to block any measures that try to get kids to stop being dickholes to each other. If we hadn't been so fucked up about sexuality in the Eighties, my friend might still have been alive.

Is everyone old enough to consent? Has everyone consented? Fuck off, we're done.


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