Adam W.J. Davies and Wayne Martino comment on Ontario’s Health & Physical Education Curriculum
It is often said that your childhood experiences frame who you become as an adult. As educators and researchers, we could not agree more with this statement. In our view, elementary, middle, and high school experiences are formative in shaping adult identities as young people learn about their bodies, health, and well-being.
Often gender and sexual minority youth struggle to find themselves represented within the heteronormative and cisgendered school walls. Thankfully, this is changing as educators in Ontario are being provided with curricular and legislative frameworks that endorse an educational program committed to providing information about bodies, sexual health, safe sex practices, and sexual and gender diversity. But much controversy has surrounded the new Ontario sex education curriculum, which has been described as radical in its approach to addressing gender and sexual diversity.
The recent release of the updated Health & Physical Education curriculum in Ontario, and its explicit inclusion of topics related to gender identity, gender expression, diverse sexualities, masturbation, and preventing sexually transmitted infections needs to be understood as anything but radical. Rather, it represents a necessary commitment to providing students with information about sexual health, safety, gender diversity, and well-being. The new sex education curriculum offers a glimmer of hope, if only for a second, that some queer, gender independent, and trans youth might experience a different childhood than previous generations. Indeed, the new curriculum delivers a baseline to begin to critique notions of heteronormativity and cisgender privilege in the educational system.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.