Hamilton public board set to roll out sex-ed curriculum

News Sep 17, 2015 by Richard Leitner Hamilton Mountain News

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board is promising to give parents plenty of opportunity to ask questions and offer their views before it begins teaching the province’s updated sex education curriculum.

A rollout plan presented to trustees on Monday includes three general parent information meetings in early November – one in each school cluster – and the opportunity for more sessions at individual schools.

Parents will also get letters beforehand on what topics are to be taught in coming weeks.

Teachers are meanwhile set to get training on the curriculum next month, although education director Manny Figueiredo said job action by elementary teachers could alter that schedule if their contract dispute with the province isn’t settled by then.

Updated for the first time since 1998, the curriculum includes several changes, teaching students in Grade 1, for instance, the proper names for genitalia, rather than just those for major body parts.

Students will now learn in Grade 3 about invisible differences in people – including gender identity and sexual orientation – and to respect them.

Reflecting the digital era, students in Grade 7 will be warned about the dangers of sexting as well as the importance of consent to sexual activities.

While the curriculum has sparked protests from some parents, Figueiredo said he’s learned first-hand how easily students are exposed to sexual information whether parents like it or not.

He said his Grade 5 daughter brought home a consent form and Googled words she didn’t understand, exposing her to images he found shocking.

“In the 21st Century, this is the power,” Figueiredo said. “Believe it or not, they’re going to get the information somehow.”

Superintendent Sharon Stephanian said parents will be able to exempt their child from portions of the curriculum as long as topics aren’t mandated by legislation like the Ontario Human Rights Code or efforts to create safe, inclusive schools.

These topics include bullying, visible and invisible differences, stereotypes, gender identity and sexual orientation.

Stephanian said as in the past, parents can still seek exemptions for subjects like puberty, sexually transmitted infections, delaying sexual activity, and sexual health and decision-making on contraception.

But she said such requests also offer the chance to discuss specific concerns and inform parents about the curriculum.

“We know that some of these topics are sensitive,” Stephanian said. “We know that there needs to be a lot of respect in addressing parents’ questions or concerns, so that’s why that one-on-one dialogue is really important.”

Superintendent Jamie Nunn said although the updated curriculum offers examples on how to broach topics, teachers will determine how best to do so based on their students.

He showed an example video on sexual consent that used serving tea as an analogy, running through a various scenarios where a person wouldn’t force tea on someone, including if they don’t want any, are unconscious or change their mind.

Nunn said while the video used some humour to make its point, it may not be suitable for all students because some might not get the analogy and require a more direct approach.

In those instances, teachers may opt to use another method, like conversation or role play, he said.

“There’s a variety of different strategies and means for how teachers go about delivering that curriculum expectation,” he said.

Hamilton public board set to roll out sex-ed curriculum

News Sep 17, 2015 by Richard Leitner Hamilton Mountain News

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board is promising to give parents plenty of opportunity to ask questions and offer their views before it begins teaching the province’s updated sex education curriculum.

A rollout plan presented to trustees on Monday includes three general parent information meetings in early November – one in each school cluster – and the opportunity for more sessions at individual schools.

Parents will also get letters beforehand on what topics are to be taught in coming weeks.

Teachers are meanwhile set to get training on the curriculum next month, although education director Manny Figueiredo said job action by elementary teachers could alter that schedule if their contract dispute with the province isn’t settled by then.

“Believe it or not, they’re going to get the information somehow.”

Updated for the first time since 1998, the curriculum includes several changes, teaching students in Grade 1, for instance, the proper names for genitalia, rather than just those for major body parts.

Students will now learn in Grade 3 about invisible differences in people – including gender identity and sexual orientation – and to respect them.

Reflecting the digital era, students in Grade 7 will be warned about the dangers of sexting as well as the importance of consent to sexual activities.

While the curriculum has sparked protests from some parents, Figueiredo said he’s learned first-hand how easily students are exposed to sexual information whether parents like it or not.

He said his Grade 5 daughter brought home a consent form and Googled words she didn’t understand, exposing her to images he found shocking.

“In the 21st Century, this is the power,” Figueiredo said. “Believe it or not, they’re going to get the information somehow.”

Superintendent Sharon Stephanian said parents will be able to exempt their child from portions of the curriculum as long as topics aren’t mandated by legislation like the Ontario Human Rights Code or efforts to create safe, inclusive schools.

These topics include bullying, visible and invisible differences, stereotypes, gender identity and sexual orientation.

Stephanian said as in the past, parents can still seek exemptions for subjects like puberty, sexually transmitted infections, delaying sexual activity, and sexual health and decision-making on contraception.

But she said such requests also offer the chance to discuss specific concerns and inform parents about the curriculum.

“We know that some of these topics are sensitive,” Stephanian said. “We know that there needs to be a lot of respect in addressing parents’ questions or concerns, so that’s why that one-on-one dialogue is really important.”

Superintendent Jamie Nunn said although the updated curriculum offers examples on how to broach topics, teachers will determine how best to do so based on their students.

He showed an example video on sexual consent that used serving tea as an analogy, running through a various scenarios where a person wouldn’t force tea on someone, including if they don’t want any, are unconscious or change their mind.

Nunn said while the video used some humour to make its point, it may not be suitable for all students because some might not get the analogy and require a more direct approach.

In those instances, teachers may opt to use another method, like conversation or role play, he said.

“There’s a variety of different strategies and means for how teachers go about delivering that curriculum expectation,” he said.

Hamilton public board set to roll out sex-ed curriculum

News Sep 17, 2015 by Richard Leitner Hamilton Mountain News

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board is promising to give parents plenty of opportunity to ask questions and offer their views before it begins teaching the province’s updated sex education curriculum.

A rollout plan presented to trustees on Monday includes three general parent information meetings in early November – one in each school cluster – and the opportunity for more sessions at individual schools.

Parents will also get letters beforehand on what topics are to be taught in coming weeks.

Teachers are meanwhile set to get training on the curriculum next month, although education director Manny Figueiredo said job action by elementary teachers could alter that schedule if their contract dispute with the province isn’t settled by then.

“Believe it or not, they’re going to get the information somehow.”

Updated for the first time since 1998, the curriculum includes several changes, teaching students in Grade 1, for instance, the proper names for genitalia, rather than just those for major body parts.

Students will now learn in Grade 3 about invisible differences in people – including gender identity and sexual orientation – and to respect them.

Reflecting the digital era, students in Grade 7 will be warned about the dangers of sexting as well as the importance of consent to sexual activities.

While the curriculum has sparked protests from some parents, Figueiredo said he’s learned first-hand how easily students are exposed to sexual information whether parents like it or not.

He said his Grade 5 daughter brought home a consent form and Googled words she didn’t understand, exposing her to images he found shocking.

“In the 21st Century, this is the power,” Figueiredo said. “Believe it or not, they’re going to get the information somehow.”

Superintendent Sharon Stephanian said parents will be able to exempt their child from portions of the curriculum as long as topics aren’t mandated by legislation like the Ontario Human Rights Code or efforts to create safe, inclusive schools.

These topics include bullying, visible and invisible differences, stereotypes, gender identity and sexual orientation.

Stephanian said as in the past, parents can still seek exemptions for subjects like puberty, sexually transmitted infections, delaying sexual activity, and sexual health and decision-making on contraception.

But she said such requests also offer the chance to discuss specific concerns and inform parents about the curriculum.

“We know that some of these topics are sensitive,” Stephanian said. “We know that there needs to be a lot of respect in addressing parents’ questions or concerns, so that’s why that one-on-one dialogue is really important.”

Superintendent Jamie Nunn said although the updated curriculum offers examples on how to broach topics, teachers will determine how best to do so based on their students.

He showed an example video on sexual consent that used serving tea as an analogy, running through a various scenarios where a person wouldn’t force tea on someone, including if they don’t want any, are unconscious or change their mind.

Nunn said while the video used some humour to make its point, it may not be suitable for all students because some might not get the analogy and require a more direct approach.

In those instances, teachers may opt to use another method, like conversation or role play, he said.

“There’s a variety of different strategies and means for how teachers go about delivering that curriculum expectation,” he said.