OPINION | Dear Divisional Court

RE: Revised 2015 Health & PE Curriculum Rollback and subsequent consultation by our current elected government

Image: DMC Delorean – Not ready for a trip back to 1998. Click here for original photo location.

By Larry Pattison
Former Trustee with HWDSB in Hamilton

To me, this is all really simple. There are people who are straight, gay, lesbian,  bi-sexual, pan-sexual, queer, questioning, transgender, two-spirited as well as a list of other variations of how others view their own sexuality and physical attraction to others. I know that’s not all that we are talking about here. We are also talking about children being able to identify their body parts and consent, but gender identity seems to be the real issue the this government has with the 2015 document. That and the ‘age appropriateness’ of the whole.

The sexual education component of the 2015 Revised Health and Physical Education curriculum isn’t about science, indoctrination, or written by a pedophile. No, kids aren’t failing math because all they can think of is anal sex as certain ‘leaders’ in our community would like you to believe.

The term ‘parents as first educators’ is not something those pushing a religious agenda can steal as a sexed descriptor. I too believe in ‘parents first’ as we are their first educators for many years and ideally remain elder voices to our children and grandchildren throughout their adult lives. I also highly regard the voices of our educators and their value in our children’s development and the professional way that they can teach sensitive topics like sexual education.

I look at education through a lens of assuming our children are not being taught anything at home, and ensuring that throughout their developing years, important life lessons are shared so that if nothing else, they can understand one another and recognize their similarities and differences in such a diverse world, as well as the basics needed to survive.

The 2015 Revised H&PE curriculum achieves this goal above not by saying that ‘science’ tells us this is the way it is, but that in our society there are people of varying colors, races, religions, traditions, origins, physical and mental abilities, and sexual preferences. There are things that cannot be denied. These feelings exist whether you would like them to or not. Whether or not you believe in immigration or providing salvation for those who try anyway possible to find their way into our country, we are already diverse. Whether we want to hide sexuality behind some false interpretations of religious text or not, people identify sexually in a wide-variety of ways and our laws say that is okay.

So elective officials and those from whom you heed advice and who have lobbied you to turn a blind eye to discussions like this, guaranteed basic income, climate change, and indigenous teachings, you cannot ignore the ‘most extensive consultation this Province has ever seen’, by stating that ‘lobbyists’ on the other side have hijacked your survey on the topic of sexual education. Aren’t we actually here in the first place because of political lobbying except in this case, our 2018-2022 government isn’t happy with the data the voices of ‘lobbying’ Ontarian’s are producing.

I must believe in my heart of hearts, that the courts will stand behind what I believe to be a right of all Ontarian’s, which is the necessity of our education system to if nothing else, ensure that all students understand their world and accept everyone as equals without prejudice, without judgement, without hate, anger, or violence. We do this through mandatory curricula such as the the Health & Physical Education curriculum published in 2015. Not by turning a blind eye and reverting to a document written in the late 1990’s.

Leaders either build strong relationships or great divides. Some governments lead by divisiveness and conjured up or stretched facts that I can only hope one day, some administration will find a way through policy and/or governance, to ensure that what comes from the mouths of politicians or hopefully candidates, is truth or face the consequence of being forced from office or removed from the ballot. Let the people hear a non-partisan truth, and let us make a decision based on all sides of the conversation. That’s the type of politics regardless of views, I can get on board with.

Your survey results are what they are. If this government is truly for the people and here to do what is best for the whole and not the minority of Ontarian’s who voted for your party (although not necessarily for changes to policies such as these), then you will leave the 2015 H&PE curriculum the way it is and stop wasting our time and tax dollars, not to mention reviving a horrible past and stomping on hope of a more inclusive tomorrow by meddling as you have in the Health & PE curriculum, Basic Income pilot, and the Indigenous curriculum writing sessions.

We must find our way to a political landscape that can no longer legally have wedge issues like gender, that politicians can build a platform on. For me this would be the most important outcome of this whole unfortunate ordeal these past 6 months.

To the courts who will bring down judgement on this case. We have come too far in human rights and freedoms in this country to take a step backward on educational reforms that just by being finally in place, have brought a sense of peace, of belonging, acceptance, and self-worth to thousands who may have otherwise stayed in hiding or ended their lives in a world that cannot talk about the realities and rights of everyday life in Ontario, Canada, the United States and the world for that matter.

Other parts of the world have been following this process from day one. Let’s ensure the outcome of their coverage of this topic can be read locally with pride as news stories showcasing the progressive Province we are – not one travelling through time in a beat up old Delorean.

So often in education circles we hear the phrase ensuring kids see themselves in their education. By ignoring these critical topics, we allow ignorance to inadvertently provide a platform for hate and or put our youngest citizens at risk without the tools they need to understand themselves, the society they live in, and their rights as people.

For our courts to side with the government on this issue, is to return our forward thinking Province to an age of intolerance and twisted truths.

30 of 31 public boards representing 1.3M students, spoke up in support of not reverting back to the 1998 curriculum. That represents 64% of all publicly funded students. That’s a lot of Director’s of Education and Trustees agreeing on something they have all cited as critical to the education of our students and meeting with their own strategic directions, missions, visions, values, and educational pillars.

Let’s move forward.

To keep up-to-date with the proceedings on this matter in court this week, you can follow Douglas Judson at https://twitter.com/dwjudson , Lawyer for Grand Council Treaty #3.

For some insight into this matter, this Toronto Star article gives some good context on this matter.

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