Toronto principal says sex-ed protest is about homophobia, not curriculum
Published Thursday, October 1, 2015 3:34PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 1, 2015 7:26PM EDT
The principal of a Toronto public school where 200 students are being kept home from school over the new sex education curriculum is speaking out, saying the matter is really about homophobia.
Jeff Crane, principal of Thorncliffe Park Public School, said Thursday there is a group of parents at the school who are spreading misinformation and rumours through pamphlets that are being distributed outside the school.
“In recent weeks, they’ve just come flat out and said that they don’t want homosexual teachers in schools, and they don’t like homosexual consultants,” Crane said. “So it’s getting away from the curriculum now.”
Crane says posts on social media from the Thorncliffe Parents Association shows that the protest is not about curriculum, but homophobia.
“Thorncliffe Public School principal has been sending different letters to parents in an attempt to divert their attention from the real focus of HOMOSEXUAL INDOCTRINE,” reads one post.
Crane’s comments came as parents and their children staged yet another protest of the sex-ed curriculum outside Thorncliffe on Thursday.
More than 700 Thorncliffe students were absent from classes, as approximately 100 people demonstrated outside.
Approximately 200 students who attend the public school have been kept home by their parents since the beginning of the school year nearly a month ago.
Protest organizers and those involved say they’re not homophobic -- they think the curriculum is not age appropriate. They also said it’s imposing values on their children that they don’t agree with.
They say they don’t want their kids to be taught about same-sex relationships, or gender identity.
“Encouraging them to go to Pride Week, why they are encouraging children to explore themselves, either they’re boy or girl,” said Khalid Madmood, a member of the Thorncliffe Parents Association.
Others say there was a lack of consultation before the new curriculum was put into practice.
Crane expressed frustration over the situation.
“It’s Toronto 2015,” Crane said. “I didn’t think I’d have to be convincing people to come to school and trust public education.”
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who is openly gay, says she always suspected the group had an anti-homosexual agenda.
“There’s a group of people who are trying to stir up these very destructive and divisive attitudes,” Wynne said. “And I don’t think that serves anyone, and I particularly don’t think it serves it serves the children of that community and this province.”
In a statement Thursday, Ontario Education Minister Liz Sandals said it was “disappointing” that some parents were choosing to keep their children home from school.
“Our top priority is for students to be in the classroom and continuing to learn,” Sandals said. “Unfortunately, the children will be the ones who miss out on their learning.”
She also stood firm on the benefits of the updated curriculum.
“The sex-ed portion of the HPE curriculum was dangerously out of date, last updated in 1998, long before Facebook and Snapchat became a part of everyday life,” Sandals said.
She added that students must understand the importance of “healthy relationships, having the confidence to say ‘no,’ safe use of technology and the internet and good mental health.”
Sandals also noted that dozens of health organizations, school council chairs and parent groups were consulted in the creation of the new curriculum.
Families whose children attend Thorncliffe Park are predominantly Muslim, and many of the parents there have been outspoken about their opposition to the changes in the Physical and Health Education curriculum. However, protests have been held at other Ontario schools over the curriculum content.
With files from CTV Toronto's Naomi Parness