Closing arguments underway in Ontario sex-ed curriculum challenge
TORONTO – Lawyers for a transgender girl fighting the Ontario government‘s repeal of a modernized sex-ed curriculum argued Thursday that the scrapped document should be reinstated at least until work on a new lesson plan is complete.
In closing arguments before the province’s human rights tribunal, they said the government was discriminating against their 11-year-old client – a sixth-grader identified only as AB – by not having mandatory gender identity lessons in the current temporary curriculum, which is based on a version from 1998.
“AB needs this information now,” her lawyer Marcus McCann said. “If this information is not taught this year there is no way to go back and teach it … that window will have passed.”
McCann said the tribunal should order the government to ensure any new curriculum is compliant with Ontario’s human rights code.
The Progressive Conservative government announced last summer that it was scrapping the updated version of the curriculum brought in by the previous Liberal regime in 2015. A new curriculum is currently being developed.
The case before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario is focusing on the impact of the curriculum repeal on LGBTQ students.
Ontario government lawyers have argued that the temporary curriculum introduced last fall does not discriminate against students, saying teachers can expand on what’s required by the document.
Lawyers for the Ontario Human Rights Commission also asked the tribunal to order the government to reinstate the modernized curriculum while a new one is developed.
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They argued that the government has discriminated against AB by “erasing” mandatory references to LGBTQ people from the curriculum.
“AB has been made to feel less worthy of recognition and value,” said lawyer Reema Khawja.
Commission lawyers asked the tribunal to order the government include lessons on gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation and consent in any future sex education curriculum.
The tribunal is expected to decide on the case in the spring.
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