Civil Liberties Association taking Ontario government to court over sex-ed curriculum change

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is challenging the Ontario government’s decision to repeal the sex-education curriculum, a move which the group says is discriminatory toward the LGBTQ community.

At a press conference on Thursday, the organization announced it had filed a court application to fight the government’s plan to introduce an interim curriculum starting in September, when the government is set to kick off a wide-ranging consultation process with parents.

Becky McFarlane, a Toronto parent who identifies as queer, and her 10-year-old child are co-applicants in the case, the group said.

Michael Bryant, executive director of Canadian Civil Liberties Association, called the government’s decision “a ham-fisted dogwhistle of bigotry, of homophobia, dressed up as a consultation fix.”

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He told reporters that unlike the material taught in Ontario schools since 2015, the organization believes the interim curriculum fails to address relationships outside of heterosexuality, excluding LGBTQ families such as McFarlane’s.

“It’s as if they are the ‘others’, the unspoken others. And that’s a directive that discriminates against the LGBTQ community,” he said.

WATCH: Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario encourages teachers to use current sex-ed curriculum

Click to play video: 'Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario encourages teachers to use current sex-ed curriculum'
Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario encourages teachers to use current sex-ed curriculum

Lawyer Stuart Svonkin said the group is challenging the move under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Ontario Human Rights Code and the province’s Education Act.

“On those three grounds, we’re going to be asking the court on an urgent basis to set this directive aside and to order that the government maintain the sex-ed curriculum that has been taught for the last three years,” he said.

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He said they are awaiting the government’s response to the application.

The province’s health and physical education curriculum were updated by the Liberal government in 2015. The sex-ed portion addressed topics such as gender identity, sexual orientation and consent.

Premier Doug Ford campaigned on a promise to repeal it and on Wednesday, the provincial government revealed an interim health and physical education curriculum for students in Grades 1 to 8.

It is based on a 2010 document, with the exception of the Growth and Development section, which dates back to 1998.

On Wednesday, Ford suggested there could be consequences for teachers who go against the government’s directive and teach the 2015 curriculum.

“We will not tolerate anybody using our children as pawns for grandstanding and political games,” Ford said.

“Make no mistake, if we find somebody failing to do their job, we will act.”

*With files from The Canadian Press


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