Ontario Sex-ed: Mass Media Conveys Values, Beliefs & Ideologies

Though I have been retired from teaching for a few years now, I can clearly remember in my first couple of years of teaching when  one  young fellows ( Grd. 10-11)  was in the English Department Office . While there,  getting some information on an assignment, he casually asked one of the teachers some advice on dating/asking out a girl.  A short while later he was walking hand in with a young lady.

 

He was a thin pale gawky kid of bookish demeanor ,while the young lady in question was a lovely girl with dark tresses and eyes that spoke of her African heritage.  Even now I smile at the thought that no one batted an eye at this  inter-racial couple. It didn’t matter – I thought we were on our way to a better society.

By the time I was approaching retirement,  we had  a school support group for gay students . Students were feeling more comfortable self-identifying and non-gay students were supportive of them. There were still some issues, but again I thought we were on our way to a better society.

The Ontario Sex-ed curriculum has been updated (from 1998) to acknowledge changes in science, medicine, social norms and the impact of social media and media devices on society. 

 

The new curriculum mandates that students in Grade 4 be taught the risks associated with communications technology, including sharing sexual photos or personal information and cyber-bullying, and strategies to use the technologies safely.

Grade 5 students get a bit more in-depth on what’s appropriate in relationships. “Sharing private sexual photos or posting sexual comments online is unacceptable and also illegal,” the curriculum says.

There has been push-back from various groups in society, some of which has been generated by intentional misinformation by politically/ideologically motivated groups or individuals.

There was a trap set by easy news shorthand – most news gathering organizations went for the “colourful exotic” image of protestors, with the implied message that most protestors were of Arabic and Asian (India/Pakistan) background .

Saying No to Sex-Ed in OntarioIn reality the groups protesting are more diverse, but many hold common beliefs about  family role in education, sexual orientation and strong to moderate  importance placed on cultural and religious background. Not all are newcomers, non-European or belong to religions other than Christianity. 

The equal diversity in those supporting the new Sex-Ed mandate has only recently hit the news gathering institutions – Muslim, newcomer groups join coalition supporting sex-ed

 This  arises from an online petition defending the New Ontario Curriculum .  The video at the top of the post is also by this group.  As you can see there is an attempt to balance out, not just the negative atmosphere surrounding the revised educational resources, but also emphasis on a negative portrayal of newcomers to Canada and non-Christian groups.

There is much work to be done in this area.  I suspect that the underlying concern is with cultural attitudes towards gender roles and sexual orientation.  We as a society have only recently moved forward in acceptance of differences in sexual orientation. Not all are accepting of this change in attitude and behaviour.  The education system will be one of the places where the lines of discomfort will come to the attention of the public in a very emotional manner.  Mass Media will play a significant role in how smoothly society navigates this issue.

 

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6 thoughts on “Ontario Sex-ed: Mass Media Conveys Values, Beliefs & Ideologies

    • Thanks Ashley. This attitude of identifying “The Other” and then using it as the bogeyman to manipulate public opinion is becoming quite insufferable here in Canada. I really hope the coming election will shake things up so that the Canada I came of age in will once again be able to raise its head in dignity, both at home and abroad.

      • I know how it feels to be ashamed to be living in a particular country. I am, at least glad that Tony Abbott has been ousted from his role as Prine Minister. I just hope the new one, Malcolm Turnbull, is quick to make same sex marriage legal. I don’t know much about him – politicians mess my head up.

      • Apparently your recently ousted Prime Minister looked upon our Prime Minister harper as a role model and Conservative elder statesman. I humbly apologize, as only a Canadian can, for spreading the infection . With any luck the coming election day will see us disinfected and properly inoculated – if not I shall be in deeply saddened.

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