McGinty’s “Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy” threatens Parental Rights in Education

Dominic Tse (President, Jubilee Centre for Christian Social Action)

During the provincial election campaign, many issues are brought to the debates, including Education. However, what is sadly missing is an important aspect of the Liberal government’s Education strategy that has been largely ignored or missed by most citizens of this province.

Recently, the McGinty government, under the leadership of then Minister of Education Kathleen Wynne, began to implement a policy called “Ontario’s Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy” (EIE Strategy) in all publicly funded school boards in Ontario.

A key part of this strategy was the introduction of a new Sex Ed curriculum for Ontario elementary schools in 2010 that included teaching:

  • 6 years old about the sexual parts of the human body
  • 8 years old about homosexuality and “gender identity”
  • 6 graders about the pleasure of masturbation
  • 7 graders about vaginal and anal intercourse.

It was only after a public outcry against the curriculum that the McGinty government was forced to withdraw the Sex Ed curriculum for a “rethink,” which sounds like a code word for “for re-introduction after the election.”

What is troubling is that the radical Sex Ed curriculum is only one part of the EIE Strategy that threatens parental rights in directing the moral values of their children in Ontario’s publicly funded schools.

Kathleen Wynne wrote in EIE Strategy: “This is why I believe it is critical for us to articulate an equity and inclusive education strategy for Ontario schools: Embracing diversity and moving beyond tolerance to acceptance.” (p.2, EIE Strategy) What does she mean by “embracing diversity”? The policy also writes, “Many events that support diversity, such as Aboriginal Education Month, African Heritage Month, Asian Heritage Month, and the Pride Parade, are celebrated.” (p. 17 EIE Strategy) It clearly means that “embracing diversity” requires students to “accept” the homosexual lifestyle by “celebrating the Pride parade.”

Another major objective of the EIE strategy is to require that students “see themselves reflected in their curriculum” and “in their physical surroundings.” (p.4, EIE Strategy) The TDSB document “Challenging Homophobia and anti-heterosexism” (CHAH), released in early 2011, is a brainchild of this policy. In the name of anti-bullying against students with different sexual orientation (LGBTQ) and gender identity, the CHAH document seeks to challenge the so-called “biases” of heterosexism in the curriculum, by deconstructing traditional (or heterosexual) notions of gender identity, sexual orientation, and family. Students as young as kindergarten are exposed to the homosexual lifestyle, to experiment with different gender roles, and, to celebrate Pride parade at school.

Another troubling aspect of the EIE strategy is the exclusion of parental participation. In Feb. 2010, the McGinty government passed Bill 157, the Keeping our Kids Safe at School Act, which requires school staff to report inappropriate student behavior, such as bullying, to principals, who in turn have to report to the victim’s parents. However, there is an important exception. In the training video for implementation of the Act in schools, it is said that principals must notify a victim’s parents, “unless it is decided that doing so would cause the victim further harm.” Can school officials override the authority of the parents in matter of welfare of the child? Who give them this authority?

In the TDSB’s CHAH document, it is explicitly stated on page. 10:

  • Schools should not send notes or permission slips home before starting any classroom work on LGBTQ issues.
  • Parents do not have their child accommodated out of human rights education based on religious grounds.

Why are parents shut out of their child’s education in these issues? What is to be feared when parents seek to bring their own cultural, religious, and family values to dialogue with the values embedded in the EIE Strategy? Isn’t it true that the best education outcome is achieved when parents are involved in their child’s education? Isn’t the case the student learns best when parents can guide their child to allow values taught at school to dialogue with values at home?

The CHAH documents says, “The TDSB will practices or conduct in its schools that may put public safety, health, or the human rights and freedoms of others at risk.” (p. 10 CHAH) Why would having parental involvement threaten the safety, health, or human rights and freedoms of others at risk?

We believe that students in our schools, regardless of sex, race, colour, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, should feel safe to learn and grow. Parents, students and staffs should all play their parts to ensure a school environment that is free of bullying. However, in affirming that bullying is wrong, we need not agree with the values of the LGBTQ lifestyles. Nor should our students be forced to accept those values.

Kathleen Wynne, in an interview by Xtra, a gay magazine, commented on the Toronto Catholic Parents Association’s effort to amend the EIE policy in the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) so that the TCDSB would stay true to its constitutional guaranteed mandate to promote Catholic doctrines, where one of the contentious issues is whether Gay clubs are allowed in catholic schools

“It is not going away. The expectation is that they will have an equity and inclusive education policy and will allow students to form these groups to have these discussions in every school board in the province,” she says. “I think what the province can do is to provide the professional development supports to the boards to get them to the point where they understand how to do this.” (Xtra, Sept. 7, 2011)

This doesn’t sound very inclusive at all. In fact, it threatens to deny our rights to be part of our children’s education. As parents, we must speak out and assert our rights. We must ensure future Ontario government respect our rights as parents to play a pivotal role in our children’s education. In this provincial election, make this an election issue when you speak to the candidates in your riding. Most important of all, please make sure you vote – vote for parental rights in education.

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Please express your concern by signing the petition at: www.StopCorruptingChildren.com.

For interview, contact Rev. Dominic Tse (email: dominictse513@gmail.com.)

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