Statement: New gender identity curriculum ‘too late’
For immediate release
August 22, 2019 (St. Catharines, ON) – The section of Ontario’s newly revised school curriculum that touches on gender identity is being criticized as “too late” in starting, says OUTniagara and the community it supports.
The collective of the region’s 2SLGBTQI+ groups and individuals is concerned that the Health and Physical Education in Grades 1-8 curriculum, released Wednesday, officially doesn’t include gender identity discussions until Grade 8, long past the time when many gender-noncomforming children are actively questioning their identity, or are already under medical care.
Marissa Daniels, treasurer of OUTniagara and a member of the recently formed LGBTQ2+ advisory committee for the City of St. Catharines, was critical of the provincial decision.
“These are already young adults. Many 13-year-olds who are questioning their sexuality or gender are way past the confused stage at this point,” said Daniels, a trans woman. “I can go on and on about the confusion, as early as 7 or 8 as in my case. I wish this was talked about when I was that age.”
JoAnn Theobald is chair of PFLAG Niagara, a peer-support organization that meets monthly. In the past several years, she said newcomers to PFLAG are more often the family and friends of gender-nonconforming children, outpacing families of children with different sexual identities.
“Some of the children are as young as six,” she said. “It’s way too late to leave the topic of gender identity to Grade 8. Children need to be supported and have their lives represented and confirmed in classrooms at a much earlier age.”
Nicole Mossop, a member of TransParent Hamilton-Niagara, said in a written statement that the curriculum “reinforces cisgender, heteronormative defaults and is complicit in the erasure of 2SLGBTQIA+ communities. It is clear that this curriculum relies on the outdated “wait and see” model of care rooted in harmful reparative values.”
She added that “to not only disregard but deem gender and sexual expansive identities as inappropriate in a classroom setting, we abandon creating inclusive spaces and encouraging acceptance, and in exchange we adopt the fostering of hostile school environments that are unsafe for 2SLGBTQIA+ students, staff, and families.”
Concluded Daniels: “The earlier this is talked about to our students, the more knowledge about themselves and others they will gain. And maybe generations to come will be more accepting and treat everyone as equal.”
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