By Alexander Campbell
I have a confession to make: I don’t give a damn about the proposed updates to the province’s sex ed curriculum.
I feel like I should. I feel like there’s an argument to be made that this is government usurping the rights of parents.
Except it isn’t. This is government having to step in where parents haven’t. And anytime anyone in government has to deal with the word ‘sex’ they do so with the utmost reluctance.
But here, it just has to.
Ontario has seen a 122 per cent increase in the chlamydia rate over the last decade. Over the last two decades, the syphilis rate in Canada has gone up roughly a thousand percent. The rate of gonorrhea infection in women under the age of 25 is more than three times what it is for women over 25.
Kids of this generation are being exposed to sex earlier than ever before. That’s a product of technology. But we’re not about to outlaw the smartphone or the internet. So, we do what we can. That means we educate them.
So far, we’re failing. Parents aren’t educating their kids about safe sex and their kids are ending up on examination tables in clinics and hospitals across the province.
The reason I can’t get worked up about the sex-ed curriculum is because this stopped being simply an education issue and became a public health issue a long time ago.
The healthcare budget of this province accounts for 47 per cent of the total; that’s somewhere on the order of $58 billion. Every dollar that we end up spending on diseases like chlamydia and syphilis — which are incredibly preventable — are dollars that we aren’t spending on diseases that aren’t like cancer or ALS.
My suggestion is that we all take a deep breath. Government has a role in combating a growing public health concern, which this clearly is. Kids are being taught that certain acts can result in infections and disease; that’s not scandalous, that’s called biology.
The world has changed a lot since the last time this curriculum was updated in 1998 but our prudishness clearly hasn’t. It’s time we provided our kids with the knowledge to protect themselves.
No more “No sex, please”. It’s time we all got a lot less skittish.
Senator Alexander Campbell was campaign manager for Sir John A. Macdonald, the sixth lieutenant governor of Ontario and not the actual author of this blog. The actual author has asked that his name not be made public at this time and has chosen Alexander Campbell as a pseudonym in part to recognize Sir John’s 200th birthday