Parents who don’t want their children to be taught sexual education in school can choose to deliver the information at home.
Gail Markin, the full-time support staff member for the new physical health education curriculum, was at the Langley board of education meeting on Tuesday night to go over changes happening with the sexual education curriculum.
Markin explained that not much has changed in sex ed instruction, but now under the new curriculum it will be taught as part of Physical Education and more time will be spent on it, including health and safety, illness prevention and mental health as well as sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI.)
“P.E. was the physical component, but now we are including mental and health components,” Markin said. “Now the holistic approach to health will be put into one place and more time will be spent on it.”
P.E. teachers haven’t before been required to teach sex ed, so Markin has been hired full time to support them and train them on the new material.
SOGI will be one component and is interwoven into the B.C. curriculum.
While parents can choose to teach sexual health at home, education around SOGI is not considered ‘sexual’ so therefore can’t be taught at home, said the school district.
However, if teaching reproductive health is something a parent wants to do, they can talk to their child’s teacher, she said. The parent will be required to show how the sexual health education was delivered at home, she added.
The Ministry of Education has long allowed parents to choose to do an alternate delivery of information in regard to sexuality and reproduction.
Parent Curtis Green had just spoken to the board about his desire to have his children opt out of the SOGI education component.
“As a Christian, I would prefer to teach my children,” he said.
He also said that children might not have the maturity to handle this “most personal and most sensitive” topic.
Green said the school district should focus its curriculum on bullying of all kinds, because that is where work needs to be done in the public school system, not with SOGI education, which he said could cause dysphoria in children.
Green added that parents had asked the district in March what resources will be used to teach the SOGI component, but said the district has not yet provided those materials.
“Deal with bullying in schools instead of singling these issues out,” he said.
Superintendent Gord Stewart said parent involvement is important for this issue, and all issues at school.
“Those kids who have had a loving parent in their corner have a greater chance at success.
“We realize there is sensitivity to this material. We make sure it is grade appropriate,” Stewart said.
“When we communicated ‘celebrate diversity’ we mean that in all forms. Every child deserves to be safe in our schools.”
There is a continuum of physical and sexual education delivery, said Markin.
“For example, in regard to substance abuse, we start the conversation in kindergarten, but we talk about poisons found in the household substances, what are the symbols and dangers. Then we work our way up.”
In March, the school district released a letter titled, “Langley Celebrates Diversity.”
It was sent home with every student and was posted on school websites.
It explains how the new curriculum set out by the province prohibits discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community.
The letter talks about the importance of inclusion of all students and how the new curriculum includes education on SOGI.
The letter upset numerous parents who packed the May school board meeting to protest the new SOGI curriculum.
Several parents spoke out against LGBTQ+, saying it goes against their family values or religion.
******** A previous version of this article, indicated that parents could have their children opt out of the SOGI component of health education, when in fact they can’t. Education about gender identity and LGBTQ orientation is interwoven into the new B.C. curriculum. However, parents can choose to teach sexual health, such as reproduction, at home.