New sexual-education curriculum released by Ontario government

The Ontario government has released its highly anticipated sexual-education curriculum just weeks ahead of the school year.

The new curriculum will focus on healthy eating and body image; mental health, including social-emotional learning skills; concussions; the effects and consequences of vaping and cannabis; cyber safety, including bullying prevention and digital privacy; and healthy relationships, including consent.

It will replace a much-criticized teaching plan brought in after the Progressive Conservatives took power last year.

The province says the program for Grades 1 to 8 has been updated after months of consultations with teachers, parents, and experts.

The sex-ed curriculum comes after an interim teaching plan based on 1998 materials was put in place after the 2015 curriculum from the previous Liberal government was cancelled.

The Tories scrapped the modernized curriculum that addressed consent, online bullying, sexting, same-sex relationships, and gender identity. The new plan will include some of those topics, but in some cases will do so when students are older.

Certain topics like gender identity and sexual orientation will be taught in Grade 8 instead of Grade 6. Parents of elementary students will also have the option to opt-out of those classes.

The Ministry of Education will release online resources for parents who want to introduce topics at home earlier or instead of learning them at school.

To see the full curriculum, click here.