Thanks to a request from Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, the Canadian province will now include teaching consent in its sex education curriculum.
When Wynne told Liz Sandals, Ontario’s Education Minister, that the curriculum needed to include “healthy relationships and the topic of consent,” the province decided to ask parents of elementary school students for their opinions. The results showed parents wanted to include information for their kids on how safely to navigate the Internet and social media. The new curriculum will be launched in schools this fall.
“It’s extremely important for everyone to understand what their rights and responsibilities are under the law,” said Kim Stanton, legal director of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), which holds workshops for students in Canada. “The term ‘no means no’ gets used a lot, but actually the legal standard in Canada is ‘only yes means yes.'”
Ontario’s previous sex education curriculum had not been updated since 1998, though an attempt to update it was shot down five years ago by some parents and religious groups. Two years ago, a coalition of teachers, parents and health experts said Ontario’s sex education needs to be updated to reflect new technology and the way students interact with it.
In the United States, only 22 states require sex education be taught in public schools at all – and only 19 states require sex education to be medically, factually or technically accurate. Only 21 states require health classes have a dating violence or “healthy relationships” component to their curriculum – though there is no information on whether teaching consent is a part of this education at all.
Media Resources: National Conference of State Legislatures 7/11/2014; The Star 1/7/2015; CBC News 1/8/2015; New Republic 11/7/2013; Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund