July 12, 2018
Yesterday, the new Provincial Education Minister, Lisa Thompson, announced that the Government would be repealing the 2015 Sexual Education portion of the Physical and Health Education document. This has been a controversial piece of curriculum since it was first introduced three years ago. I have already been asked what this means for us at Paul Penna DJDS.
Over the past two years, the Core Teachers, Phys Ed teacher, Educational Administration and School Counselor have worked hard to identify the different ways and appropriate places to integrate the various elements of the Sexual Health curriculum. We are proud of the way we have integrated conversations about the developing human body, gender identity and sexual orientation in age appropriate ways. As our students get older, we begin to move some of the discussions, especially those related to their changing bodies and elements of physical, social and emotional maturation, into smaller co-ed groups.
I am proud of the way our students have read picture books and novels that challenge gender stereotypes and unpack issues related to gender identity and non-conformity. I was particularly impressed with the way the Grade 2 students understood the story And Tango Makes Three and were able to relate to their own life experiences, people they knew and the opportunities for individuals to be themselves and love wholeheartedly. I was also tremendously impressed with the way our Grade 5 students analyzed the novel Gracefully Grayson and used it as an opportunity to understand identity and how people’s inside feelings and outside appearances sometimes don’t match. They also used it as an opportunity to learn about perspective taking and review the difference between visible and invisible characteristics, an expectation from the Grade Three Human Development and Sexual Health curriculum.
I intend for these conversations, originally inspired by the 2015 Human Development and Sexual Health curriculum, to remain a part of our curriculum. It is important that we not only teach our students about the changes to their bodies, such as menstruation and deepening voice, but also address issues related to personal identity and emotional change and growth. The elements related to healthy sexual relationships are part of the Grade 8 curriculum and thus are not topics we have addressed in school.
I will be following the development of the next iteration of this curriculum carefully, and as we implement Ontario curriculum in our school, I will work with the educational administration and the teaching faculty to ask the question: How do we ensure the teaching of this curriculum remains inline with the mission, vision and values of Paul Penna DJDS?