August 21, 2019
Toronto, ON – Following a court case and extensive lobbying by ETFO, parents and students, the Ford Conservative government has reintroduced a Health and Physical Education Curriculum that is very similar to the 2015 version it scrapped, says the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO).
"ETFO's court case heard in January 2019 drew attention to the importance of equipping children with the knowledge that they need to be safe in today's society," said ETFO President Sam Hammond. "It's unfortunate that this government was willing to put an entire cohort of students at risk last year as a way to score political points with its voter base. We are concerned about the opt-out clause for parents to pull their children from these classes to the detriment of their safety and well-being. You do not get to opt out of human rights."
Topics that ETFO successfully pushed for including in the new curriculum are sexting, consent, naming of body parts in Grade 1, sexual orientation in Grade 5 and same-sex relationships and parenting as well as gender identity, which has been pushed back to Grade 8. This political decision is contentious given that educators are seeing gender identity manifest itself in some children at a much earlier age.
"During our legal case and lobbying efforts, ETFO also stressed the need for a new way of approaching student mental health and socio-emotional learning to ensure the health and well-being of students, and that has been built into this curriculum version. We're pleased to see that funds have been allocated for program implementation and professional learning; however, there is still great uncertainty as to how the curriculum will be implemented given that the government has introduced it two weeks before it is expected to be taught.
"ETFO members have taught digital citizenship and online safety for years. I want to thank our educators who continued to support students on safety and sexual health issues throughout this year in the face of the government's damaging roll-back," added Hammond.
"The addition of a Kindergarten Program addendum on concussion prevention and online safety underscores the importance of curriculum delivery in the Full-Day Kindergarten program. This is a positive addition and underscores the important learning that occurs in FDK."
ETFO represents 83,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals across the province.
For more information, contact ETFO Media Relations:Valerie Dugale, 1-888-838-3836 x2331, cell: 416-948-0195, firstname.lastname@example.org