Federation of Canadian Secondary Students | Fédération des élèves du secondaire au Canada
+1 (519) 476–7936
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 21, 2019
Ontario’s newly revised Elementary Health and Physical Education (HPE) curriculum for students from Grade 1 to 8 has been released as of August 21st with unforeseen changes made to it.
The revised curriculum has been generated based on the Government of Ontario’s largest-ever consultation regarding the province’s public education system. Having held the major consultation with over 72,000 students, parents, educators, and organisations in December of 2018, the provincial government’s new 320-page curriculum reflects the needs of direct stakeholders.
With changes to several different topics including but not limited to sexual health, consent, mental health, cannabis use, and online safety, the latest HPE curriculum surprisingly preserves much of the previous Liberal government’s document with slight alterations. Sexual orientation education will now be mandatory in Grade 5 and gender identity in Grade 8; both had been taught in Grade 6 under the Liberal government’s 2015 curriculum. In the Grade 3 curriculum, however, references to sexual orientation and gender identity have been eliminated from the list of differences students were to describe: “learning abilities, skills and talents, personal or cultural values and beliefs, gender identity, sexual orientation, family background, personal preferences, allergies and sensitivities.” The references have since been replaced with mental illness.
The government has also mandated all school boards in the province to establish policies and procedures allowing parents to opt their children out of human development and sexual health education in school. As not all school boards currently have such policies integrated into their systems, the provincial government requires all policies and procedures to be completed by November 30th, 2019. This act standardizes a practice across the province as school boards including the Toronto District School Board and the Peel District School Board have not permitted students to be exempt from receiving sexual education.
Previously, the Progressive Conservative government received vocal opposition from students and educators for temporarily replacing the curriculum with an earlier version of the HPE curriculum referencing a document published in 1998. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario were among several groups that initiated legal action against the provincial government and the temporary regress of the curriculum was also among the reasons behind the provincewide student walkout in April. Upon the release of the new teaching plan, Education Minister Stephen Lecce informed the public that the curriculum will “keep kids safe in and outside of the classroom”.
The Federation of Canadian Secondary Students | Fédération des élèves du secondaire au Canada (FCSS-FESC) supports the changes made to the Elementary HPE curriculum, applauds the Ontario government for ensuring that students are well-informed in regards to the growing number of topics that have emerged since the introduction of the 1998 curriculum, and urges all students to review the revised plan available here.