Premier Dalton McGuinty has backed down on implementing changes to the sex education curriculum for the province's Grade 1 to 8 students.

"It's become pretty obvious to us that we should give this a serious rethink," he said Thursday at an announcement in London, Ont. "We'll take it off the shelf and bring it back in government."

As late as Thursday morning's question period, the curriculum changes were being defended by the government.

"Tell me that you are not in the Dark Ages about what a Grade 1 student is coming home with through the Internet or through the school yard," former education minister and current Minister of Economic Development and Trade Sandra Pupatello said. "We want those children taught properly."

And earlier this week, McGuinty had defended the curriculum's changes, which were quietly unveiled in January. To see the changes, one would have to read through the entire curriculum.

But McGuinty said that after listening to what parents had to say, it appeared that many of them were not comfortable with the content -- and that the changes had not been communicated very well.

The changes have come under fire from conservative Christians, among others, over the teaching of issues such as gender identity to Grade 3 students. The current curriculum was established in 1998.

The Globe and Mail newspaper endorsed the curriculum changes in an editorial published Thursday, saying it dealt with the values of sexual education and not the mechanics of sexual acts.

Parents informed of the government's about-face by CTV Toronto's Janice Golding were relieved to learn the curriculum changes were put on hold.

"That's more like it," said one father after hearing the news. "It's way too early."

Given the backlash from parents, McGuinty said the government's job is to "find a policy and a curriculum that they're comfortable with."

But the current curriculum is 12 years old, McGuinty said, adding that his son would describe that as being "36 iPod generations."

He said today's children have more access to more information than ever before. "I think parents recognize that," he said.

"I think we all prefer that if they're going to access that information, we take the opportunity to present it in a thoughtful, responsible way -- and in an age-appropriate way in our classrooms."

What ultimately results "remains the subject of some debate and some concern, and we're going to take the time to get that right," McGuinty said.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Janice Golding and Paul Bliss