If Catholic school sex-ed plan is as advertised, it won’t be taught: Notley

The Alberta government is currently rewriting teaching plans across the board, from kindergarten to Grade 12.
The Alberta government is currently rewriting teaching plans across the board, from kindergarten to Grade 12. Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says an alternative sex education curriculum being crafted by Catholic school officials will never be taught if it arrives as previously advertised.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Notley said the health and well-being of students comes first.

“Nowhere do the rights of religious freedom extend to that person’s right to somehow attack or hurt others — and that’s what’s happening here,” Notley said Tuesday. “We will not use public dollars to have sexual health programs that deny science, that deny evidence, and that deny human rights.

“They can continue to work on (the proposal) all they want, but we ultimately approve the curriculum that goes into schools — and this kind of curriculum will not happen.”

Karl Germann, president of the Council of Catholic School Superintendents of Alberta, could not be reached for comment.

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READ MORE: Online porn, sexting should be included in sex ed. curriculum, Alberta professor says

The Alberta government is currently rewriting teaching plans across the board for kindergarten to Grade 12.

Catholic school superintendents are crafting an alternative sex education curriculum that they want the province to approve for their schools.

They say the government’s teaching plan clashes with faith-based instruction by including, among other topics, homosexual relationships and gender identity different from one’s biological sex.

In documents filed with the province, the superintendents also take issue with sexual consent by a partner in marriage. They say it is only one of many factors to be considered along with morality, family and wellness.

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WATCH BELOW: Danielle Smith and Angela Kokott weigh in on the controversy surrounding the proposed sex-ed curriculum from Catholic school officials

READ MORE: Edmonton Catholic school trustee says gaps in sex-ed classes could be putting students at risk 

Notley said consent is paramount and there is no debate.

“Consent is the law in Alberta and under no circumstances will any child in Alberta be taught that they have to somehow accept illegal behaviour in a sexual relationship. The end.”

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Notley said her government respects the role of parental choice in education.

“Parents have the right — and they have had the right for a very, very long time — to pull their kids from curriculum and education around sexual health. And they will continue to have that right,” she said.

“But under no circumstances will we enforce or condone a sexual health curriculum that normalizes an absence of consent, refuses to talk about contraception and other things that protect the health of sexually active young people, or in any way marginalizes sexual minorities. That’s not on.”

READ MORE: Sexual education compared across Canada 

Education Minister David Eggen echoed Notley’s remarks, particularly around consent.

“There’s no (room for) negotiation for that, I can tell you,” Eggen said in Calgary Tuesday. “Teaching consent is a basic health and safety issue for students in regards to sexuality, and it needs to be strengthened if anything.”

Notley’s government plans to introduce legislation in the fall legislature sitting to strengthen protections for minority students.

LISTEN: Janet French joins Angela Kokott on Calgary Today

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It would compel all schools that receive public money to establish anti-discrimination codes of conduct, adopt policies to protect LGBTQ students, and to affirm students’ legal right to set up gay-straight alliances.

Eggen has said many schools have been working with the province on such rules, but 20 of them, mostly private institutions, have been resisting.

READ MORE: Edmonton-area schools ordered to allow gay-straight alliances for LGBTQ students

Private schools get 70 per cent of their funding from the government.

Eggen has said the bill is also aimed at blunting a proposal from United Conservative leadership candidate Jason Kenney that school officials tell parents when their children join a gay-straight alliance, so long as it doesn’t bring harm to the youngster.

READ MORE: Jason Kenney slammed for comments about gay-straight alliances

Advocates say there is no way to be sure that a child wouldn’t be ostracized or face harm. Eggen said the legislation will make it clear the decision remains with the student.

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