The leader of Ontario, Canada, has axed the province’s LGBTQ-friendly sex and relationship education curriculum.
Premier Doug Ford, who has drawn comparisons to Donald Trump, removed the LGBTQ program as part of a campaign promise to his supporters. His party, the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, took control of the provincial government last month.
Lisa Thompson, Ontario’s Education Minister, confirmed to the Globe and Mail that the old curriculum is being scraped and will be replaced by the previous version, which was introduced in 1998.
“The sex-ed component is going to be reverted back to the manner in which it was prior to the changes that were introduced by the Liberal government,” Ms. Thompson said. “We’re going to be moving very swiftly in our consultations, and I will be sharing with you our process in the weeks to come.”
The curriculum was updated in 2015 to provide information to children on same-sex relationships, gender identity and sexting. It sparked outrage from some parents and the religious right, with Ford saying many parents felt “ignored” regarding their concerns.
However, the Liberal government said they had listened to experts, educators and at least one parent from all 4,000 of the province’s elementary schools when putting together the lesson plan.
Cathy Abraham, president of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, told the Globe and Mail that the updated program is important because it addressed topics that did not exist back in 1998.
“There are pieces of the curriculum that back in 1998 wouldn’t have been there because it hadn’t become a thing yet,” she said. “This is about the safety of our children.”
New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath agreed, saying that backtracking on the curriculum will hurt students in the long term.
“Going backwards in terms of keeping our kids safe and giving them the information they need to stay safe is not the right direction for the kids of this province,” she told reporters.
Providing students with LGBTQ-friendly education has been a hot button topic in America. In June, the Fairfax County School Board in Virginia voted unanimously to approve updated language in its sex education curriculum in order to make it more inclusive to LGBTQ people.