Thousands of angry parents protested at Queen’s Park on Tuesday over the province’s new sex education curriculum.
The demonstrators held signs reading, “People have no voice” and “Enough of Kathleen Wynne’s sex agenda.”
Jack MacLaren, the PC Member of Provincial Parliament for Carleton-Mississippi Mills, near Ottawa, attended the rally.
He accused the Liberal government of failing to consult parents on the new curriculum.
“The government is going to ram something down your throats that you haven’t even been asked about. And if you had have been asked, what would you have said,” MacLaren asked the crowd, to chants of “No!”
Former PC leadership candidate Monte McNaughton (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex) also spoke at the rally. Patrick Brown (Barrie), who is still in the running for the party leadership, did not appear despite appearing on the “tentative” speakers list.
Under the changes, Grade 3 students will learn about same-sex relationships, kids in Grades 4 and up will learn more about the dangers of online bullying, while the dangers of sexting will come in Grade 7.
Lessons about puberty will move from Grade 5 to Grade 4, while masturbation and “gender expression” are mentioned in the Grade 6 curriculum.
The Liberal government backed away from an attempted update of the sex-ed curriculum in 2010 after protests by some religious groups, but when Education Minister Liz Sandals unveiled the new curriculum in February she insisted it will be in place for the start of classes in September.
She also said Roman Catholic educators were consulted and must follow the curriculum in private schools as well as the public system.
After the first protest, Premier Kathleen Wynne, who is openly gay, said some of the opposition was motivated by homophobia.
Protesters called on Wynne to face them, but the premier was attending a climate change meeting in Quebec.
Asked if she would address the protesters, Sandals said, “If I were to walk into a crowd of 3,000 people the OPP security people would flip out.”
Sandals said at first the opposition to the curriculum came from parents who “might have been misinformed about the details of the curriculum, but who were genuinely concerned.” Now the messaging has turned into Conservative criticism of the Liberal curriculum, she said.
With files from The Canadian Press