According to the Toronto Star, on the first day of the 2015-16 school year, Thorncliffe Park, “Canada’s largest elementary school was half-empty” as parents protested the new sex education curriculum being implemented in state-funded school systems.[i] Other schools have seen similar absences, as parents across Ontario have been “pulling their kids out of school… to protest the controversial sex-ed curriculum,” in areas like Mississauga, Ajax, Peterborough and Oshawa.[ii]
This new sex-ed curriculum has ruffled feathers, it has offended parents and members across a spectrum of ethnic and religious groups, demonstrating a broad consensus of opposition to the curriculum’s content. But what makes this curriculum so controversial? In a report on its re-introduction (the curriculum was introduced, then withdrawn, in 2010), CTV News conveyed that children will be taught same-sex marriages and homosexuality in Grade 3, with discussions about “masturbation, in Grade 6, and talk about preventing sexually-transmitted diseases in Grade 7, which could include information on oral and anal sex.”[iii] Strongly associated with these teachings is the component of “consent” taught to six-year-olds, including “reading facial expressions and emotions,” which assumes that children have the “capacity for moral responsibility to exercise it.”[iv] We ought to remember that the legal age of consent was determined based on the capability to behave as morally responsible adults.
Dr. Scott Masson, fellow of the Ezra Institute, rightly said in his contributions to the National Post that this new sex-ed curriculum is “nothing other than an experiment on their children by the children of the sexual revolution”[v] and a shift “from ignoring one’s parents to operating explicitly against them.”[vi] What he means by this is that the new curriculum was implemented without parental consent, and is positioned to coax children to disregard their parents as their primary educators and instead rely on state-determined morals and norms, which fluctuate over time. In fact, a growing number of parents have said that components of the sexual content being taught are age-inappropriate, and in conflict with their religious beliefs.
This isn’t a matter of “the people have decided upon this,” but on the contrary, it’s a curriculum imposed on unwilling families, parents and children. And yet every effort is being made by the government of Ontario to spin this new curriculum as a positive and progressive breakthrough, even airing television ads with children barely old enough to comprehend these matters asking questions about same-sex marriage, gender identity and homosexuality.[vii] To consider exploring various different gender identities is enough to sexually confuse a child, as opposed to helping their education and understanding. And reinforcing this “gender-identity” component is the Ontario lawmakers’ recent decision to remove the words “mother” and “father” from “all government forms to ‘reflect the diverse nature’ of families in the province.”[viii] If this was for the sake of “inclusivism,” one ought to ask why remove the words “mother” and “father”? Why not keep them on government forms while adding “parent and guardian;” would that not be more inclusive? But what’s clear is that any hint of a biblical definition of “family” and “marriage” must be pressed into obscurity, even in the case of semantics.
The Christian Response
How then should the Christian community respond? General inactivity, or negligence in facing the issue, have been at times supported by a pessimistic eschatology, which dooms the world into utter darkness, hopelessly lost and irrecoverable, while at the same time being unbiblical. It’s been the loss of influence by the church which has contributed towards the secularization of our nation,[ix] and those who claim otherwise fail to recall that the confederation of Canada was in large part due to the influence of the church, instilling a positive acceptance towards the founding of our nation.[x] In failing to be proactive, we thought that by leaving this LGBTQ movement alone, it wouldn’t affect our families and children, but now it seeks to creep into our homes through state-imposed education, regardless of parental “consent.” We also dishonor our Lord in not confronting sin for what it is, privatizing our Christian faith as opposed to proclaiming a full-orbed Gospel, applicable to all areas of life.
Participating in protests should not be discouraged as it displays the active voice of the church in the public square, but we might ask “where was this voice prior to this implementation?” The recent trend of a reactive, as opposed to a proactive, church, means that damage has, and is already being done. As a recent example of the value of public protests, in the United Kingdom, protests contributed in part towards the rejection of the assisted suicide bill in the House of Commons, which was the first “serious attempt to change Britain’s assisted suicide laws.”[xi] If done peacefully and respectfully, protests can go a long way in the democratic process to influence lawmakers and members of parliament. But we aren’t limited to only protests, there are other options that the Christian community ought to consider.
A growing number of families in Ontario are withdrawing their children from state-funded education systems and placing them in private Christian schools. In such an environment, issues of sexuality can be addressed from a biblical perspective, at an age-appropriate level of comprehension. Home schooling is also on the rise as parents opt for a more direct educational relationship with their children, exercising their right as their children’s prime educators, and in effect deciding when to teach what regarding sexuality. But in the case of many Christian families who can’t afford to place their children in private Christian schools, and where both parents are required to work full-time jobs to provide for the needs of the home, their options are far more limited. They do what they can by removing their children from their classrooms on the days that the sex-ed curriculum will be taught, although given the developments in Manitoba, that option may in the future be prohibited by law.[xii] Parents should also ensure that they are preparing their children educationally on how to respond to the anti-biblical teachings of their public schools, while having the church address these issues from the pulpit, with information sessions, and other programs and projects to help cultivate godly families, guided and founded upon God’s Word.
There is hope, as we must remember, the King whom we serve reigns and rules upon His throne, and that His law and Gospel shall prevail in the world, having delivered us from the power of evil (Gal. 1:3-4), from the pernicious one.[xiii]
[i] Kristin Rushowy and Rob Ferguson, ‘Thorncliffe Park School Half Empty amid Sex-Ed Protest | Toronto Star’, Toronto Star (thestar.com, September 8, 2015), accessed September 28, 2015, http://www.thestar.com/yourtoronto/education/2015/09/08/thorncliffe-park-school-half-empty-amid-sex-ed-protest.html.
[ii] Lianne Laurence, ‘“We Are Thorncliffe”: Parents Begin Pulling Students for Sex-Ed Strikes across Ontario’, Life Site News (Life Site News, September 18, 2015), last modified September 18, 2015, accessed September 28, 2015, https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/we-are-thorncliffe-parents-begin-pulling-students-for-sex-ed-strikes-across.
[iii] Keith Leslie, ‘Ont. to Reintroduce Sex-Ed Curriculum It Withdrew in 2010 by next Fall’, CTV News Toronto, last modified October 30, 2014, accessed September 28, 2015, http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/ont-to-reintroduce-sex-ed-curriculum-it-withdrew-in-2010-by-next-fall-1.2079374.
[iv] Scott Masson, ‘Why the Critics of the Ontario Sex-Ed Curriculum Are Right’, National Post (National Post, March 31, 2015), accessed September 28, 2015, http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/scott-masson-why-the-critics-of-the-ontario-sex-ed-curriculum-are-right.
[vi] Scott Masson, ‘Shutting Our Minds to the Truth’, National Post (National Post, May 14, 2015), accessed September 28, 2015, http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/scott-masson-shutting-our-minds-to-the-truth.
[vii] Jane Taber, ‘Ontario Launches Ad Campaign to Promote Sex-Ed Curriculum’, The Globe and Mail (The Globe and Mail, August 31, 2015), last modified August 31, 2015, accessed September 28, 2015, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ontario-liberals-release-ad-promoting-sex-ed-curriculum/article26164063/.
[viii] Keith Leslie, ‘MPPs Vote to Remove Words “Mother” and “Father” from Government Forms’, CTV News Kitchener, last modified September 24, 2015, accessed September 28, 2015, http://kitchener.ctvnews.ca/mpps-vote-to-remove-words-mother-and-father-from-government-forms-1.2579666.
[ix] Brian C. Stiller, From the Tower of Babel to Parliament Hill: How to Be a Christian in Canada Today (USA: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997), 46.
[x] John Webster Grant, The Church in the Canadian Era, Updated and Expanded. (Vancouver, B.C.: Regent College Publishing, 1988), 24.
[xi] John Bingham, ‘Right to Die: MPs Reject Assisted Dying Law’,The Telegraph (Telegraph.co.uk, September 11, 2015), accessed September 28, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/assisted-dying/11857940/Assisted-dying-vote-in-House-of-Commons.html.
[xii] Vidya Kauri, ‘Manitoba Teachers Want Province to Stop Parents from Pulling Kids out of Sex Ed Classes’, National Post (National Post, May 28, 2012), accessed September 28, 2015, http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/manitoba-teachers-want-province-to-stop-parents-from-pulling-kids-out-of-sex-ed-classes.
[xiii] Joseph Boot, ‘The Meaning of Deliverance’, Ezra Institute for Contemporary Christianity, last modified September 18, 2015, accessed September 28, 2015, http://www.ezrainstitute.ca/resource-library/blog-entries/the-meaning-of-deliverance.