Posted in Blog, In the World

Media Blackout on Parental Rights Hearing?

Ontario father Eustathios (Steve) Tourloukis was in Superior Court yesterday in Hamilton,  where Kathleen Wynne’s Attorney General allegedly argued to take away the father’s parental rights pertaining to the education of his children. I say allegedly because I can find only one source for this information, a blog written by Lee Iacobelli, the chair of Parental Rights in Education Defense Fund (PRIEDF), an organization which is financially supporting Mr. Tourloukis’ court case.

Why is the media so silent? This is a case with ramifications far beyond one father. If Premier Wynne and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (EFTO), who have sought intervenor status in the proceedings, are successful, they will have set the precedent of revoking fundamental parental rights in education!

This is an extremely controversial curriculum. It was controversial in 2010, when it was first introduced by Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government. So controversial that he pulled it, promising not to reintroduce it without parental consultation, much to the chagrin of then-Minister of Education now-Premier Wynne.

It was controversial at the time of its implementation in September 2015, when it was discovered through documents disclosed via a Freedom of Information request that Wynne had lied to the public in her assurance that this curriculum had been revised with input from parental consultation.

It was controversial when the man in charge of the development of the curriculum,  former Deputy Minister of Education, Ben Levin, was arrested and convicted on child pornography charges.

It was controversial throughout the school year, as school enrollment plunged. While the government will not admit that the new sex-ed curriculum plays any role in this decrease in enrollment, Wynne certainly seems to feel threatened by it, going so far as to attack homeschooling  as outrageous and irresponsible.

And it remains so controversial, in fact, that concessions have been made to parents of students at Thorncliffe Park Public School. (Never mind the obvious bias of the CBC article, which makes the parents’ concerns seem ridiculous — that is for another blog post, another time) Despite Wynne’s previous assertions that she would not back down on this, in May 2016, the Toronto District School Board agreed to offer a “sanitized” version of the sex ed curriculum, in respect to the Muslim beliefs of the school population.

So why won’t Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) allow Mr. Tourloukis to be informed of what and when his children will be exposed to in contravention of his Greek Orthodox beliefs?

The Liberal government is just as full of obfuscation, doubletalk, and outright deception in the area of education as they are in every other scandal-ridden area.  Liz Sandals, Minister of Education in September 2015 as the curriculum rolled out, confirmed that parents would be allowed to opt out, stating that “It’s actually in the Education Act that a parent has the right to withdraw their child from content they don’t want their child to receive.”  Wynne confirmed that parents had the right to opt-out from objectionable content, although she could not help but place a moral judgment on those who would avail themselves of this right.

So why did Tourloukis have to actually take his school board to court in an effort to get them to comply with the Education Act? And why, when he did, has Wynne’s government prepared a factum stating the intention to have his parental rights to his children’s education revoked?.

Why is this not reported in the mainstream media?  Other than Mr. Iacobelli’s blog, you won’t find a word about yesterday’s hearing, presided over by Justice Reid at the Superior Court in Hamilton.

Mr. Tourloukis’ legal counsel, Albertos Polizogopoulis, replied to my email yesterday with the statement that “No decision was issued today. It will likely be several months.”

And if you want to find out what that decision is, you will have to hunt pretty hard for it.

Posted in Blog, In the World

Poor Dumb Ontario

Kathleen Wynne really thinks you’re dumb.

You keep protesting this curriculum, and that can only mean that you don’t understand it.

She obligingly set out to inform you, generously budgeting $1.8 million in taxpayer funds (according to the London Free Press) for radio, print and online ads throughout June and July.

But that wasn’t enough! Protests across the province showed her that the ignorant, unwashed masses remained ignorant and un(brain)washed. She had no choice but to continue to inform you how great this curriculum really is, using more of your money. You’d thank her for this one day.

But these dumb parents kept showing up at protests throughout Ontario. Some even insisted that they would enrol their children in private school or homeschool. How irresponsible and outrageous!

Just whose children are they, anyway? Anyone would think that parents believed themselves to have more authority over their children than Kathleen Wynne has!

Clearly, something had to be done. Money had to be spent. A television ad was produced. How much more (above the original $1.8 million budgeted for print and radio) of your money was spent convincing you that you really like this curriculum?

But you don’t really need to know that, do you?. In any event, Wynne refuses to tell you (according to The Globe & Mail).

She will decide what you need to know, just as she will decide (with the help of Benjamin Levin) what your child needs to know about sex.

As for that promise that parents would have the right to exclude their child from objectionable content? Turns out that would be a violation of human rights.

We shouldn’t be surprised that Freedom of Information documents show that she didn’t really consult with Ontario parents, as promised after McGuinty pulled the curriculum in 2010 due to tremendous opposition. After all, you’re not smart enough to know what’s best for your kids.

If only she spends enough of your money on ads, surely she can make you understand that she is the best person to teach your child about sexuality. She only wants to keep your child safe, after all. Didn’t you see the commercial?

And if you still disagree, well, it must be because she’s gay. If you’re not dumb, you must be homophobic.

Posted in Blog, In the World

What’s the Fuss about Sex-Ed: Grade 6, 7 & 8

September is almost upon us, and Kathleen Wynne and Benjamin Levin’s new sex-ed curriculum is almost upon the children of Ontario. Here is a quick peek at what the middle-schoolers will be learning.

Teacher Prompt: Things like wet dreams or vaginal lubrication are normal and happen as a result of physical changes with puberty.

True enough, but do you really think it’s acceptable for your 11-year-old’s teacher to teach him or her about wet dreams and vaginal lubrication in front of a mixed class? Imagine how uncomfortable you would have been with this at 11 years old.

There is a real power imbalance here. Children are taught to respect their teachers, that they can’t just walk out of the room during class. But we also tell them not to show or discuss the private parts of their bodies with adults — to say no, and tell us if an adult shows them or talks to them about something that makes them feel uncomfortable. And then we subject them to this?

GRADE 6:

Teacher Prompt: Exploring one’s body by touching or masturbating is something that many people do and find pleasurable. It is common and is not harmful and is one way of learning about your body.

If my child told me that an adult engaged him or her in a conversation like this, I would consider it to be an assault, and would contact the police. Why on earth would I allow this to take place just because the adult in question is a teacher, acting at the behest of Kathleen Wynne and convicted pedophile Benjamin Levin ?

GRADE 7:

Teacher Prompt: Thinking about your sexual health is complicated. It’s important to have a good understanding of yourself before getting involved with someone else. It’s not just about making the decision to have sex or waiting until you are older. It’s also about things such as your physical readiness; safer sex and avoiding consequences such as pregnancy or STIs; your sexual orientation and gender identity; your understanding of your own body, including what gives you pleasure; and the emotional implications of sexual intimacy. It can include religious beliefs. It includes moral and ethical considerations as well, and also involves the need to respect the rights of other people. Can you explain what is meant by a moral consideration?

Can you, Kathleen Wynne? Can you “explain what is meant by a moral consideration?” Do you know what it means to “respect the rights of other people?” Consider the morality of superseding the parents’ right to guide their own children on these matters. Against tremendous opposition by Ontario parents, you are forcing children into a sexual health curriculum that was developed and overseen by a convicted pedophile!

GRADE 8:

Teacher Prompt: How would thinking about your personal limits and making a personal plan influence decisions you may choose to make about sexual activity?

Possible Student Answer: Thinking in advance about what I value and what my personal limits are would help me to respond and make decisions that I felt comfortable with in different situations. I would be able to approach a situation with more confidence and stick to what I had planned. I would be less likely to be caught off guard and have to react without having thought through the options and possible consequences.

People who think they will be having sex sometimes soon should keep a condom with them so they will have it when they need it.

Remember, this is not a high school curriculum. We are talking about 13-year-olds here. Do you know your child’s teacher? Do you trust them with guiding your children through their sexual choices, so that they might approach sexual situations “with confidence?”

It is the responsibility of the parents to have these discussions with their children. If we abdicate our responsibility to raise and guide our own children, people like Benjamin Levin will be only too happy to step into that gap. And legislators like Kathleen Wynne will mandate that they do.

If you are a citizen of Ontario, please join in a province-wide protest at your local MPPs office on September 2nd.

Posted in At Homeschool, Blog, In the World

Is it Outrageous and Irresponsible to Encourage Homeschooling?

Kathleen Wynne states that legislators have a responsibility to encourage parents to put their children in the public school system. While she admits that parents have the right to educate their children at home, it is “outrageous” and “irresponsible” for MPPs to encourage this option.

Really? If homeschooling is a legitimate option why on earth would it be outrageous or irresponsible for anyone — whether a politician or a private citizen — to encourage this choice?

Could Wynne be expressing sour grapes over the fact that many parents are considering this option in order to retain their autonomy over what their children are taught about sexuality? Wynne has forced in this sex-ed curriculum despite tremendous opposition from Ontario parents.

She wants your children taught the sex-ed curriculum she put together with convicted child pornographer Ben Levin. She can force this curriculum into the classroom, but she is finding out that she can’t force your child into that classroom. That’s what she really thinks is outrageous.

Her statement was in response to MPP Monte McNaughton’s address to a homeschooling information session hosted by the Parent’s Alliance of Ontario for Better Education. While McNaughton did not suggest that parents pull their children out of school in reaction to the curriculum, he does believe that parents should be the first educators of their children on matters like sexual education, and that parents know what is best for their children.

Wynne states that his appearance at the homeschool information session has “really shined a light on the different value systems,” and I totally agree with her. While McNaughton shows his values to be family-oriented, with a belief that parents have the right to educate their children within their own value system, the Liberal party’s values include bullying and intimidation tactics to bestow upon the government a right to transmit its values to our children.

Premier Wynne’s Liberals are very consistent with Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberals. Trudeau has silenced Liberal MPs with his declaration that they will not be allowed to vote their conscience on pro-life matters, but must vote pro-choice with the Liberal party. Wynne would like to go so far as to silence MPPs of the other parties in an effort to have them too,  toe the Liberal party line.

But whether Wynne likes it or not, the MPP’s responsibility is to represent his or her constituents, not to support the public school system.

PC MP Monte McNaughton and PC leader Patrick Brown are showing that their values are much more in line with Ontario parents than are Kathleen Wynne’s. I hope that they will not succumb to Premier Wynne’s attempts to intimidate them into sharing the Liberal party’s value system.

I know that her attempt to silence Ontario parents will not succeed.

Posted in Blog, In the World

What all the fuss is about … Grade 4 & 5

Grade 5: Things I cannot control include… personal characteristics such as …my gender identity, sexual orientation…

This is not scientific fact, but a statement of belief. It is a contentious statement, representative of only one side of a hotly debated issue, and yet it is being taught to our children as if it were truth. According to the American Psychological Association:

There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.

http://web.archive.org/web/20130808032050/http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/sexual-orientation.aspx

Why teach that sexual orientation is a biological fact that one is born with, when this is speculative theory and not accepted by scientists?

Grade 4: Advances in technology … come with risks and potential difficulties, such as … exposure to people who ask you for sexual pictures or want you to share personal information.

Isn’t this conversation something that parents should be having at home with their children? Yes, advances in technology do come with risks. But not every nine-year-old is exposed to these risks, and not every nine-year-old needs this conversation presented in this way. This conversation seems more like parenting than school-teaching.

As a parent, I make choices about my child’s use of technology. I do not permit my children to have a cell phone or access to the Internet without my direct supervision, sitting right there beside them. They do not have social media accounts. Indeed, as a parent I have made a choice not to have a cell phone myself. Neither am I on social media (with the exception of this blog, where I do not use my or my children’s real names.) There are many reasons for these choices, but one major reason is to prevent my children from having inappropriate exposure to the risks of these technologies before they are mature enough to handle it. I do not model texting, cell phone usage, and social media usage as a norm, and this is my prerogative as a parent.

Of course, not every parent makes the same choices, and that is fine. My point is that we as parents have the right to make different choices for our children in these matters, and as a result, we will be having different conversations at different ages with our children about these matters.

I do have conversations with my children about the dangers that they may face in the world, but I have these conversations in such a way that I as the parent determine to be appropriate for my child, and at a time and place that I as the parent determine to be appropriate. I do not need nor want a teacher’s help with these conversations, nor do I want a classroom full of nine-year-old girls and boys to be privy to the conversation.

Again, the problem with this curriculum is that it is entering into the parent’s domain.

Grade 4: describe the physical changes that occur in males and females at puberty (e.g., growth of body hair, breast development, changes in voice and body size, production of body odour, skin changes) and the emotional and social impacts that may result from these changes

Grade 5:

  • identify the parts of the reproductive system, and describe how the body changes during puberty;
  • describe the processes of menstruation and spermatogenesis, and explain how these processes relate to reproduction and overall development;
  • describe emotional and interpersonal stresses related to puberty (e.g., questions about changing bodies and feelings, adjusting to changing relationships, crushes and more intense feelings, conflicts between personal desires and cultural teachings and practices), and identify strategies that they can apply to manage stress.

When I was in grade 6, my school mailed home a letter to the parents. They were going to have a class on puberty, and were inviting parents to participate with their children. The lesson would be presented in the evening, after the regular school day, so that if a parent did not wish their child to attend, it would not affect their regular attendance. One evening would be a girls’ session, which the girls could attend with their mother, elder sister, grandmother, aunt or female family friend. The following evening was for the boys, which they could attend with their father, elder brother, grandfather, uncle, or male family friend.

My mother and I attended, along with my best friend and her mother. I remember it as a fun evening, sometimes embarrassing (but how much more embarrassing if the boys in the class had attended?), where we learned all about the changes we could expect in puberty in our own bodies, and a little about what changes the boys would be experiencing. There was coffee and juice, and snacks after the presentation, and I remember it as a fun evening out with my mother, where I felt very grown up about being admitted into this world of women.

Looking back, I think that was the perfect way for a school to address the issue of puberty. If a parent is too uncomfortable to speak with their child about it (although I can’t imagine that being as much of a problem in our present-day culture), they could attend a session taught by a professional, which would have the affect of teaching the child what they need to know in front of the parent, and open discussion between the child and the parent for the future.

Why do we need a teacher to be in the place of mentor and puberty-educator? Leave these sensitive issues to the parents, and stick to reading, writing and maths at school. Of course, there is room for biology within academia, but that is a course for high school, not ten-year-olds!) Teaching a prepubescent about the changes about to occur in their own body is not an academic subject, and deserves the respect and sensitivity accorded by a private conversation with a parent, not a mixed classroom environment.

Posted in Blog, In the World

What all the fuss is about … Grade 3

A breakdown of Ontario’s new sex-ed curriculum by grade level, to see how it will affect children this fall.

Grade Three: Describe how visible differences (e.g., skin, hair, and eye colour, facial features, body size and shape, physical aids or different physical abilities, clothing, possessions) and invisible differences (e.g., learning abilities, skills and talents, personal or cultural values and beliefs, gender identity, sexual orientation, family background, personal preferences, allergies and sensitivities) make each person unique, and identify ways of showing respect for differences in others [PS, IS]

We all come from different families. Some students live with two parents. Some live with one parent. Some have two mothers or two fathers. Some live with grandparents or with caregivers. We may come from different cultures. We also have different talents and abilities and different things that we find difficult to do.

Isn’t it ironic that the same piece of curriculum that teaches about respect for “personal or cultural values and beliefs” also tramples upon the personal and cultural values and beliefs of many Ontarians in the very next clause, as it goes on to teach about “gender identity” and “sexual orientation.”

The “personal or cultural values and beliefs” of many Ontarians hold that eight years old is simply too young to be taught about gender identity and sexual orientation. And yet the Ministry of Education would take it upon itself to teach my child about topics that I consider age-inappropriate. What gives the government the right to disrespect my personal and cultural values and beliefs? What gives them the right to decide for me and my child – for you and your child – when and how to have this conversation?

Of course bullying is never acceptable behaviour. Children can be taught to have respect for others without being taught about every possible gender identity and sexual orientation that they may come across. Again, the main issue here is that this curriculum takes it upon itself to expose every 8-year-old schoolchild in Ontario to content that is better explained by parents at home, where they can do so in a sensitive manner, consistent with their own “personal and cultural values and beliefs,” at appropriate times, and as situations arise to bring those “teachable moments.”

This curriculum is overriding the discretion of the parent and replacing it with the discretion of Kathleen Wynne and Benjamin Levin.

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.