Protests bring sex ed meeting to abrupt end
Published Friday, March 13, 2015 9:16AM EDT
Parents’ angry outbursts brought a public meeting about Ontario’s new sex education curriculum to an abrupt end before the presentation was over Thursday evening.
The information session held at a Scarborough high school ended early, after members of the audience began shouting at organizers and each other.
The meeting was hosted by Liberal MPPs Bas Balkissoon and Soo Wong at Agincourt Collegiate Institute in Scarborough. Organizers intended to provide more information about the Ontario Liberals' new sex ed curriculum, but they were repeatedly interrupted by shouting.
The curriculum was released to the public last month, marking the province's first sex ed overhaul since 1998.
- Review Ontario's updated Physical and Health Education curriculum
The changes would bring Ontario in line with other provinces, Education Minister Liz Sandals said Feb. 23.
Among the more controversial updates, Grade 2 students will learn the concept of "no means no."
Grade 3 students will learn about same-sex relationships, while Grade 4s will learn about the dangers of cyberbullying and posting and sharing sexual images. Grade 6 students will be taught about masturbation, while Grade 7 and 8 students will learn about contraception, oral sex, preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
Students in Grade 7 will learn about the dangers of sexting. Grade 8s will be taught there are six genders: male, female, two-spirited, transgender, transsexual and intersex.
Some parents say the new curriculum goes too far, and is not age-appropriate. Rallies have been held across Toronto since the curriculum was unveiled as parents ask the Liberals to scrap the changes.
The protests continued Thursday evening, when parents and community members lined the street outside Agincourt Collegiate holding signs that proclaimed, "Say NO to radical sex ed curriculum," and "Our children our choice!"
The peaceful protest outside turned into a shouting match inside, however, and got out of hand shortly after the meeting formally started.
Dozens of protesters filed into the school, and started chanting when as the organizers' presentation began.
"We say no, we say no," the crowd chanted in a room so full that dozens had to stand at the back.
"Why are you as a government teaching my kids about masturbation? Same sex marriage? That it’s okay for your brother to wear a dress?" one protester asked.
Balkissoon told CTV Toronto's Heather Wright that the meeting ended when parents tried to "set the rules" of the meeting, shouting over each other and ignoring organizers.
"People want their voices heard. You guys talk about consent. You're not getting the consent of parents," one protester said.
Some parents attempted to regain control of the room, but they were drowned out by shouting. The yelling was initially directed at the Liberal MPPs, but soon parents turned on each other.
Protesters began calling each other names and hurling insults back and forth. Some held their children while they yelled at each other.
MPPs gave the audience a warning, but when protesters failed to quiet down, the meeting was cancelled.
"There are people who have an agenda and who came here to hijack this meeting," Wong told CTV Toronto.