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Trustee candidates air views on sex education controversy

by Patrick Raftis

MOOREFIELD - Candidates for the Upper Grand District School Board North Wellington trustee position were asked to weigh in on one of the today’s most controversial Ontario education issues at an Oct. 3 gathering here.

At an all-candidates meeting, hosted by the Mapleton Chamber of Commerce and held at the Maryborough Community Centre, Candidates Robin Ross, Shawn McLeod and Rob Unsworth were asked their position on the “sex education” curriculum, which was implemented in 2015 by the previous Liberal government and scrapped by the Conservatives upon taking office. Candidates were also asked their position on changes to the province’s Indigenous Studies curriculum.

“First of all it’s directed by the Ministry of Education so as a trustee I can’t change that,” said Ross. “I can lobby the Ministry of Education to reassess their curriculums, but I probably can’t change their mind.”

Ross noted while it’s often referred to as sex education, “actually its health and physical education.

“Removing that is based on the premise that every home is a good home with parents that are able to teach everything that is in there to their kids and I don’t believe that is possible,” said Ross.

“There are kids that live in homes that don’t care for them as well. There are kids that are abused. And if they never get any information that that is wrong, that what is happening to them is wrong, they will never know the difference.

“And, to me, the education system is built so that all kids have the opportunity to have an equal education and if you are a family where you can do all of that for your kids that’s great. You have always had the opportunity to do that. The school system is built to balance out stuff for kids.”

Ross added, “If I have to teach my kid social media, he’s in trouble, cause I’m old, I do facebook I have no idea about snapchat.”

Ross continued, “And the same goes for native studies. I didn’t spend years studying that, I have no idea how to teach that to my kids. And I believe the reason the public school system exists is to provide information that parents can’t. People have always had the opportunity to take their kids out if they don’t agree. But now we don’t even have the chance for kids that don’t have that support to get the information.”

“On the health education, I think we have to trust in our teachers,” said McLeod. “Our teachers have the experience. Our teachers know the kids. The school board will work with teachers to make sure that you follow the rules that are laid out. You can’t let politicians get in the way. Let the professionals be professional. And the same on the native education. Keeping people in the dark has never helped any of us. So the more information the better and open communication is always the best solution.”

Unsworth stated, “The sex ed. curriculum is set by the board and I will be there to lobby for what I believe is proper. And what I believe is children have to come first and their safety is the number one priority. On any level, safety is number one priority. And with the technology that’s out there today and the way that kids can get in trouble with their phones and other things it is a necessary evil that the school must teach it because parents don’t’ understand it all. And there are some teachers that I wonder if they understand it all and they need to be directed from above by the board.”

In regard to the Indigenous Studies program changes, Unsworth said, “I am one eighth Indian and I believe that we need to look at the residential schools and make sure that we never have an atrocity like that ever again. And so there’s a lot of things that I believe need to happen and we need to look at them and move forward and child safety is number one.”

At an earlier candidates meeting, hosted on Sept. 29 by the chamber at Community Christian School in Drayton, candidates responded to a question on the status of childcare facilities in Drayton and Moorefield.

 Unsworth said that more children need to stay in the local community.

McLeod said it seems to be a communication problem.

“That would be the trustee’s role, to make sure that everybody’s talking, on the same page and that’s probably the best way to solve the problem,” he said.

Ross said there are two sides to the story, using the new childcare centre at Palmerston Public School as an example.

“The people who are getting childcare spaces, the 54 childcare spaces are very excited and think it’s a great place, the 447 kids that go to Palmerston Public School are mad that they’ve lost their (two baseball) diamonds and room to run,” she said.

“So when you’re looking at things like this, you have to look at both sides of it because the childcare spaces were a bonus to many but it was a loss that the school is feeling.”

- With files from Jaime Myslik


October 12, 2018


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