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Sex-ed proposal graded difficult

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A proposal by Manitoba teachers for sweeping inclusion of sexual-orientation issues throughout education curricula would likely be a first for Canada, maybe for the U.S. too.

"I certainly am not aware of any" such broad measures in any other jurisdiction, said Carolyn Duhamel, Manitoba School Boards Association executive director.

Thursday's Free Press story, which broke news of the teachers' impending policy vote, set off an online firestorm, with 482 responses posted on the WFP website by mid-afternoon Thursday.

Most of the comments, almost all of which are anonymous, attacked the proposal.

Here's a sampling on the online responses:

  • kefri: "In other news, math class will now be a 5 minute slide show in between a lecture on global warming/sky falling environmentalism 101 and anti-bullying social justice reform class. Because, really, in the NDP utopia that we are headed towards, jobs skills really are not that important. Who needs to read as long as we all feel properly guilty for being white, straight, Canadians!"
  • TruthThatHurts: "I really wish the MTS would first fix education on reading, writing, and arithmetic. Then once that is done, they can add further lessons about society."
  • Nicholas James: "This is fantastic news. A more inclusive picture of society is a great step. This isn't an agenda or some trick to 'turn kids gay'. This is an accurate reflection of society. Way to go MTS!"
  • intangible: "I'm pretty sure this doesn't mean teaching anything about sex. It'll be more like including the idea that parents/couples aren't always male+female when referencing families in class. Whether you like it or not, it's a reality. To ignore that reality makes kids who do have same-sex parents feel bad about themselves when they repeatedly hear that 'real' families are something different than what their families consist of."
  • Basslicker: "Every day I am more glad my wife and I are not having kids. I would go insane. What a waste of time and money. With all the problems in the education system and the justice system and everything else, people are worried that a math problem doesn't include gays?"
  • Easter of Eden: "And yet, with all of this progress, schools are turning out graduates who cannot spell, cannot perform basic arithmetic unaided, cannot put a proper paragraph together, know almost nothing of geography and history... oh, but we're making progress."

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"I expect most school boards don't know it's out there. Obviously, it's something we'd have to give some thought to," Duhamel said.

The Manitoba Teachers' Society executive wants its 15,000 members to endorse a resolution calling on the province to "ensure that same-sex families and LBGTTQ people and themes are reflected in all curricula."

The MTS holds its annual general meeting May 23 to 25.

"Any curriculum change is generally a long process" that can take years to develop material and incorporate it into each year of a subject, let alone all subjects, said Duhamel. "That's a fairly lengthy and complex process."

However, she said, it may be that if approved by the MTS and accepted by the province, teachers could have some flexibility in designing lesson plans that work in the themes the MTS wants, which would be a shorter process. "If you're talking about integrating themes of learning, they have some latitude in what they choose to get to those learning outcomes," she said.

Provincial curricula must be followed by all Manitoba schools, public and private. The Manitoba Federation of Independent Schools has not responded to an interview request. Opposition education critic Kelvin Goertzen (Steinbach) was not available Thursday.

Thursday's Free Press story, which broke news of the teachers' impending policy vote, set off an online firestorm, with 565 responses posted on the WFP website by Thursday evening.

-- kefri: "In other news, math class will now be a 5 minute slide show in between a lecture on global warming/sky falling environmentalism 101 and anti-bullying social justice reform class. Because, really, in the NDP utopia that we are headed towards, jobs skills really are not that important. Who needs to read as long as we all feel properly guilty for being white, straight, Canadians!"

-- Nicholas James: "This is fantastic news. A more inclusive picture of society is a great step. This isn't an agenda or some trick to 'turn kids gay'. This is an accurate reflection of society. Way to go MTS!"

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 3, 2013 A3

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Updated on Friday, May 3, 2013 at 7:46 AM CDT: adds fact box

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