In case you are wondering what all the fuss about this curriculum is about, let’s take a look at the actual content of the physical and health education curriculum as it relates to sexuality, broken down by grade level.
Grade One: identify body parts, including genitalia (e.g., penis, testicles, vagina, vulva), using correct terminology
I have seen proponents of this curriculum speak as if we who oppose it are in favour of leaving our children in the dark when it comes to necessary information about their own bodies, speaking of hoo hoos and ha has in hushed tones. This is not the case at all. Many parents have no objection to teaching “correct terminology” when it comes to body parts. The objection, rather, is to the government making a determination on how much information about genitalia my children need to learn at age five or six, and the mixed classroom environment in which it is being taught. They are overriding the discretion of the parent.
I have no objection to my children learning proper names for penis and vagina. I certainly do teach them the proper names, when I as their parent determine it to be appropriate. I do not believe that a six-year-old who still says moo-cow and pasgetti needs to be able to name and label the parts of a vulva. And certainly boys and girls do not need to be taught the same terms at the same age.
My little boys have known the word for penis since they were potty-training. As their mother, I deemed it appropriate at that time. And they became aware of some of the differences between boys and girls when a new baby sister was born, and they witnessed her being diapered. Interestingly, only one of the boys noticed the difference, and so only one of the boys received any information at that time. As the parent, I made a determination to wait for the appropriate teachable moment, not an arbitrary grade level.
Also, when I do teach my children these terms, I am careful to mention privacy. Just as they do not show their private area to other people, so they are also reminded that we do not speak about these private areas in public. When children learn this information in the very public classroom environment, this important lesson about privacy is being undermined.
In my opinion, there are three very important components to teaching children about genitalia: age appropriateness; waiting for “teachable moments” when the information becomes relevant; and including information about privacy. These three components are all easily managed at home, and they are all impossible to manage at school, where a teacher teaches all children at an arbitrary grade level, in a classroom environment where the information is certainly not part of a natural “teachable moment,” and where the information is presented publicly.
If you are a resident of Ontario, and want to protect your right to teach your child in an age-appropriate, situationally-appropriate, private manner, as determined by you, the parent, please express your concern to Premier Kathleen Wynne, Education Minister Liz Sandals, and your local Member of Provincial Parliament.