Friday, April 23, 2010

Ontario to “educate” kids while they're young

Once upon a time, in a land long ago and far away . . .

A recent news article revived some old memories that have lain dormant in some dusty corner of my mind for a half-century. When I was a kid growing up on Cape Breton Island, life was slow and easy-going. Teen-age boys thought about teen-age girls roughly sixteen hours a day. For the other eight hours, we dreamed about them.

But, boys knew they were boys and girls knew they were girls. The girls knew boys were all hands, and if they gave them an inch they 'd push for the proverbial mile. And, the boys . . . well, the boys often went out of their way to prove the girls right. I suspect little has changed in that regard.

In that long ago summer of my fifteenth year I'd been asked to babysit my four younger siblings while my mother visited my dad in the hospital. I'd met a girl earlier in the summer and had planned to meet her that night. So, I made arrangements to have her drop by the house. When mom got back from the hospital, we'd go up to Frankie's. I had 26 cents in my pocket; enough for two cokes with a dime left over for three plays on the juke box.

Mom had barely gotten in the door when the older of my two younger sisters charged into the living room exclaiming: “Ma, Matt and B. were on the couch all night kissing. He made us play in the back yard all night.”

Uh-huh. Embarrassing moment.

My mother said nothing until the next morning. Then, as I was leaving for a tennis match, she said quietly: “Your father will want to talk with you when he gets home.”

Two days later, when he got out of the hospital, dad and I had “the talk”. It was short and to the point, emphasizing morals, hygiene and common sense. In a nutshell, show the girl respect, keep yourself clean and always carry protection; just in case you both “lose control”.

If you're wondering about the moral of this little anecdote, don't; it has none.

But, reading the article in the Calgary Herald brought it to mind. And, it has me wondering when parents delegated responsibility for the sexual education of their children to the government. Did parents consciously surrender their obligation to inform their children or was that duty slowly and surreptitiously usurped by the state? Should the state be permitted to substitute their system of values for those of parents?

According to the article, Ontario's Ministry of Education claims kids are growing up fast. So, in January, they quietly announced plans to introduce a new sex education curriculum “to adjust to 21st-century realities, including rising sexual activity among young people”. The new sex-ed classes remained pretty much under the radar until the plan hit the front pages earlier this week.

The up-dated sex-ed curriculum planned on introducing children as young as five to a sort of primer on human anatomy. Grade 1 children were to be taught to identify genitalia using the correct word, such as penis, vagina and testicle. Gender identity and sexual orientation would not be taught until Grade 3. Presumably the kids would be more mature by then.

But, some people believe, with good cause, that the course material was not age appropriate. "It is unconscionable to teach eight-year-old children [about] same-sex marriage, sexual orientation and gender identity," said Charles McVety, president of Canada Christian College.

"I understand that the Ministry of Education is responding to 'changing times'," said John Shea, an Ottawa-Carleton District School Board trustee.
"However, I think it's a sad state of our society when 12-year-old children are learning about the pleasures of masturbation, vaginal lubrication, oral and anal intercourse. I hope that the provincial government consults with parents on the new changes before it is rolled out into primary schools."

According to a ministry spokesperson, "We know at least 25 per cent of kids in Grade 9 are sexually active. You need to give them information they need to know about making healthy choices before they become sexually active.” Uh-huh.

I'm beginning to have an unhealthy reaction every time I read or hear the term “healthy choices”. I've come to realize that healthy choices aren't about choice at all. I now equate the term with brown shirts and jack boots and behavioural control.

I have a bizarre picture in my mind of a teacher standing in front of her class of five year olds saying to the kids: “OK boys and girls. Say it with me. Va-gi-na. Can you write it in your notebooks? No. OK, maybe next year after you've learned to write”.

And, teaching 8 year old kids about sexual orientation, gender identity and same sex marriage also seems a little beyond the pale. It smacks of indoctrination rather than education.

At any rate, Ontario's Premier, Dalton McGuinty, has done another flip-flop. Yesterday, he was defending the new curriculum. To-day, he admits that the proposal needs a “re-think” and plans to shelve the idea. Good thinking, Dalton, let's give the kids a little time to be kids. They'll grow up soon enough.

Who in hell are these politicians listening to?

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