Ontario Sexual Education and Blush: The Card Game

“Here are all the instructions for doing this acidic lab. Have fun!”

The teens start pulling out beakers and vials, pouring acid without the use of gloves. Safety goggles are placed on top of the head, to make it easier to see the measurements.

“But we didn’t want to teach the students safety measures! That would have given them ideas about how to hurt themselves!”

We don’t say things like that. In science classrooms around the world, the first thing that is taught are the safety measures. Wear your goggles at all times. When handling dangerous substances, use gloves, wear a lab coat, don’t touch corrosive substances with your skin, etc.

Why should it be any different in sex education?

Or, less scandalously, Healthy Living, as it’s called in the Ontario Health and Physical Education curriculum.

The Ontario government has shown it doesn’t care about your child’s sexual education. That doesn’t mean you’re on your own. Blush: The Card Game was designed to complement the 2015 curriculum, help parents gauge their child’s understanding of the course material, and impart their own values on the topics that they learned in school. Now it can be used to help parents fill in the gaps in their child’s education.

In the 2015 curriculum, some topics that were included are discussions about consent, respect, healthy relationships, sexual and gender identity, and cyberbullying.

When the Ontario government repealed the curriculum and reinstated the one from 1998 they went back to a time before the internet.

A lot has changed in twenty years, including how students access to information. The internet is widely available now, and on devices a lot smaller than the old family computer in the living. Meaning kids feel more comfortable searching for their questions about sex and sexuality than going to their parents, if they feel awkward.

Unfortunately there are massive amounts of information on everything and it’s difficult to find and identify valid and trustworthy sources. Blush: The Card Game has valid sources already sorted through and made available to you. You can read them in advance or with your child.

Let’s talk about a few facts.

Cyberbullying: 1 in 3 kids have been or will be cyberbullied, and it is projected to get worse.

Sexual and gender identity: the “alphabet soup” terminology isn’t meant to confuse – being able to put a name to differences that people can otherwise not explain can be nothing short of lifesaving; it gives the feelings one already has a sense of normalcy and legitimacy, and, most importantly, access to the community who shares that experience. Thankfully, they can be looked up in the dictionary (more in depth sources of information are included with Blush). Giving students the terminology to describe themselves isn’t giving them ideas – it’s giving them the tools and the agency to use them.

The 2015 curriculum also bumped up the conversation about puberty to an earlier age.

This means that topics like menstruation will be taught to everyone together. Chances are, even if your child does not menstruate, they will encounter someone who does.

Being aware of what menstruation means will foster an understanding and respect of what other human beings are going through.

Talking about puberty was moved to grade 4 from grade 5-6, because in grade 4, most kids are 9-10 years old.

Recently, puberty has been starting in kids around that age. Teaching them about what their bodies are going through BEFORE they go through it will help avoid a possibly traumatic experience.

I was lucky that my mother talked to me about my period before I got it – she was only early by about six months. I can’t imagine my panic if I had started bleeding before I knew what it was. And the 1998 curriculum was instigated the year I was 13, so I wasn’t taught about menstruation in school until it was too late

One of the most important aspects of the 2015 curriculum – it normalizes talking about the body and its functions, starting the discussion in grade 1 by naming body parts.

To recap, the 2015 curriculum has been removed, and the 1998 one has been reinstated.

That means that parents need to shoulder the brunt of the responsibility of teaching their kids. They need to learn the information, so that they can impart the knowledge necessary upon their children. This decisSex Ed Secondary Curriculumion by the Ontario government means a lot more work for parents.

Here are some tools available and being prepared:

  • The 2015 curriculum documents, Elementary (PDF 2.6MB) and Secondary (PDF 1.7MB) so you can follow along and make sure that your child is learning the content that they need.
  • An amazing educator, Dr. Nadine Thornhill , who is working on youtube videos to teach the 2015 curriculum.
  • A really great website is Sex and U. It’s a great resource from Ontario that has lots of searchable information.
  • Scarleteen is another great site and one of oldest and most inclusive sex ed resources out there!
  • Then there is Blush: The Card Game, to help you discuss topics and impart your own values in a fun and educational way.

The removal of the 2015 curriculum doesn’t just affect you. It affects our future, and the future of our children. I want my daughter growing up with her body and identity respected. Please teach your children that cyberbullying is wrong, that respect is given to everyone, that consent is important, that sexual and gender identities are diverse, beautiful, and valid, and what healthy relationships look like.

Do you have a question about sex or sexuality? You can ask your question Anonymously here.

If you have any questions about Blush: The Card Game, it’s content, how it can help you. Feel free to contact us at blushcardgame@gmail.com

If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

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