Any trust parents may have had in Saskatchewan’s education system has been shaken to its core.
In Lumsden recently, Grade Nine students had access to explicit ‘flashcards’ describing sexual fetishes that most adults had never even heard of. This was passed off as sexual health instruction. The cards were brought in by Planned Parenthood, which is unrepentant about the content. Parents only found out because a student told their parents about it.
No parent was informed or asked for consent about the content. Some on social media have even vilified the student for ‘taking’ the cards, which reportedly, were on a table as a resource. Others postulated that since this information is ‘on the internet’, it doesn’t matter if students are exposed to it at school.
It DOES matter.
The assumption that all students will and should receive ‘how to’ instruction about those practices is outrageous. This ‘we know better than you’ attitude is on full display not only by Planned Parenthood, but by the school boards and administrations that have created a culture that allows this.
Many teachers have indicated that they are extremely uncomfortable about the agenda driven indoctrination that is going on in the schools. They have no support, and fear reprisals if they speak out including losing their jobs.
The bottom line is parents have a reasonable expectation that their children won’t be exposed to controversial information without their consent. Every fall, parents entrust their most precious gift, their children, to the school system, believing that they will learn what they need to succeed in life in age-appropriate ways. Now parents are fearful that certain agendas have hijacked the system.
Getting answers isn’t easy. In my own constituency, a school with approximately 230 children had parents demanding a meeting with the division to address alleged extreme bullying, assaults and sexual assaults that occurred in or near the school. When a meeting was finally granted, approximately 100 parents attended. Most left frustrated because the actual incidents could not be candidly discussed due to privacy constraints. Neither could the administration promise that their children would be safe in school the next day, because of process. One of the main issues identified was the lack of communication by the school to parents, regarding the incidents and safety risks to students.
To rebuild trust in our system will take extra measures, particularly in communication.
I would ask parents, do you believe it should become mandatory that all resource materials to be used in a classroom, be made available for parental review BEFORE it is presented? This could be a simple as posting them to the school’s website or emailing to parents. Please let me know your thoughts on this idea.
Prior to the Lumsden incident, I have been reviewing the official government policy* on Gender and Sexual Diversity because of inquiries regarding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI). (www.sogieducation.org) Parents have been asking me if it is already integrated in Saskatchewan schools. Of note, SOGI is not just presented as a sexual health class, but is a taught philosophy integrated into all aspects of the school environment.
As a provincial community, it is time to have frank, open discussion on what is acceptable curriculum and how to ensure parents have the right to influence and scrutinize that curriculum. Let me know what you think by emailing me at email@example.com or call 306-763-0615.
*Saskatchewan Government webpage re: Gender and Sexual Diversity resources:
Deepening the Discussion: Gender and Sexual Diversity pdf
Student Alliances for Gender and Sexual Diversity in Saskatchewan Schools pdf