An alternative to Ontario’s updated health curriculum is being offered by the Toronto elementary school that found itself at the centre of the sex-education controversy — with Grade 1 students having the option to learn about “private parts” instead of proper names for genitalia.
Thorncliffe Park Principal Jeff Crane said because a number of parents had concerns about their children being taught the words penis and vagina, the school decided to offer a class where teachers covered the key issue of inappropriate touching without being specific about body parts, a move meant to keep kids in school this week and at least learn some of the curriculum.
About 60 per cent of the 300 students in that grade were taught the proper curriculum, the remaining 40 per cent the sanitized version.
“We let parents know ahead of time when the health strands for human development were being taught and, for Grade 1, that there would be one lesson where there would be discussion of body parts … They were told if learning the names of genitalia was a concern, they could write me a letter requesting a religious accommodation,” said Crane, whose school is located in the riding represented by Premier Kathleen Wynne, who championed the updated health curriculum.
Parents were told “the lesson would be exactly the same, but instead of using proper terms like penis and vagina, we would use the term ‘private parts.’ The key learning in that expectation is that this is a part of your body always covered with clothes, nobody touches it and you don’t show anybody. We were able to maintain the integrity of the expectation with a very simple accommodation.”Last September, Thorncliffe Park school was hit by protests — which saw hundreds of children pulled out of school because of the sex-ed curriculum — where parents set up their own classes in the adjacent park. Even weeks later, when that protest ended, enrolment remained lower than expected. But now, it has rebounded and sits at 1,310 students, down from the projected 1,350.
Crane said he held 20 sessions with more than 650 parents to go over the curriculum and to counter misinformation circulating in the community, which has a large Muslim population.
Just don't call it "creeping sharia," 'kay, because that would be "Islamophobic."He said he expects to offer modified lessons to students in Grades 4 and 5, when puberty and menstruation are among the topics covered...