When Kait was in her early teens, I agreed to send her to a sex education program run through our Unitarian Universalist congregation. This program was comprehensive, informative, and LGBTQ friendly, something that couldn’t be said about the school’s program at the time. When he got old enough, Colin got sent to the same program for the same reasons.
In 2015, after several years of research and discussion, our then premier, Kathleen Wynne, unveiled a new program. It was comprehensive, informative, and LGBTQ friendly. Young children were taught the names their body parts, including their genitals, while older children learned about consent, sexting, and online bullying. And LGBTQ students were addressed as well.
We have a new premier now, a buffoon named Doug Ford. He’s not only scrapped the new program but has set up a snitch line so parents and students can report any teacher who uses any material from the now scrapped program. The old program, written in 1998, did not include online bullying, which makes sense since we were on dial up. The new program does. So if a teacher addresses online bullying, they could be facing disciplinary actions.
Meanwhile a generation of students need education.
That’s were the Canadian Unitarian Council comes in. They are offering to teach any student in Ontario the OWL program (Our Whole Lives). From their press statement…
The Canadian Unitarian Council is deeply concerned that the loss of comprehensive sexuality education in Ontario schools will leave children and youth vulnerable at a time when they most need accurate information and empowerment to make good decisions. Asha Philar, OWL Coordinator for the CUC states, “The Our Whole Lives program gives youth the tools to make healthy and age-appropriate choices and helps LGBTQ youth find self-acceptance and support. Without access to accurate information and learning opportunities, Ontario students are put at risk and we fear that LGBTQ youth will face even more barriers to acceptance.”
The program is not free, the price for a several day program is $250, but it is worthwhile, especially considering the education our children are (not) receiving. If this program sounds like something you’d be interested in, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. OWL programs are available at many UU congregations from September through May and have age appropriate programs from kindergarten to adulthood.
Hopefully Ford will back down on his decision, especially faced with so much opposition but, until then, the Canadian Unitarian Council is there to fill the gap.