A Catholic school board in Ontario, Canada, has decided to delay the implementation of its Health and Physical Education curriculum that contains sexual health topics after parents protested its content.
Parents and organisations are opposing the sex education component of the updated Health and Physical Education curriculum that was announced by Ontario's Ministry of Education last February and was set for implementation in September.
According to LifeSiteNews, the sex education component teaches grades 1 to 8 pupils diverse topics including gender identity, sexual orientation, identifying parts of the reproductive system and the dangers of "sexting," or the sending of sexually explicit photographs or messages via cell phone.
The York Catholic District School Board said it will delay the implementation of the curriculum until spring next year.
"At the request of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops, the Institute for Catholic Education has begun the task of developing resources to assist teachers and school administration in Catholic School Boards with the implementation of the Human Development and Sexual Health topic within the revised curriculum," said Patricia Preston, director of education.
She said this is to ensure that the curriculum will be vetted by theologians and deemed appropriate by bishops for Catholic schools.
"As has always been the case, parents retain the right to withdraw their child from any lesson," she said.
The Catholic Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud (CSDCCS) also told parents that the sex education component of the curriculum will be introduced only in February next year.
The Parents as First Educators (PAFE), an organisation that vehemently opposes the curriculum, said it hopes that "other boards follow the courageous example of these boards."
PAFE and Life Site News have launched online petitions to stop the implementation of the curriculum.
Jack Fonseca of the Campaign Life Coalition said the delay in the implementation "buys parents more time to keep protesting and putting pressure on MPPs to demand the total repeal of the curriculum."
"Hopefully parents in all the other Catholic school boards can leverage this development to demand their trustees at least to do the same," he said.
The Toronto and Halton Catholic school boards, on the other hand, will implement the curriculum in September.
Ontario's Ministry of Education said the new curriculum gives "students accurate information that will help keep them safe and healthy."
"Updates to the curriculum include healthy relationships, consent, mental health, online safety and the risks of sexting," it said.
It explained that the Growth and Development section of the elementary Health and Physical Education curriculum has not been updated since 1998 before the widespread use of social media and smartphones.
The ministry said the "World Health Organisation has found that providing kids with comprehensive sexual health information helps prevent early sexual activity and negative health outcomes" in addition to studies that showed that vast majority of parents want schools to provide sexual health education.