There has been a media frenzy the past few days regarding a pro-life presentation that occurred in a Grade 10 class in the Red Deer Catholic School District.
According to an April 10th Global News article, Minister of Education David Eggen responded with the following comments:
“I think it’s a good reminder to everybody to be vigilant and to ensure this sort of hateful propaganda doesn’t infiltrate our schools.”
“It’s completely outrageous. I was offended.”
“The presentation was inappropriate and misleading, using incorrect information and, quite frankly, frightening.”
“The Red Deer and Area Pro-Life group presenting in schools – I have a big problem with that too.”
An organization called AIM (Accessing Information not Myths) issued a press release “calling for an immediate, province-wide investigation into the state of sexual health education in Alberta schools,” including three specific requests of the Minister of Education:
1. Launch an immediate investigation into all third-party sexual health presenters in Alberta school districts
2. A rush-order on the provincial sexual health curriculum update to include comprehensive, age-appropriate, medically accurate, consent and evidence-based outcomes
3. Issue an immediate ministerial order that all non-teacher presenters must be approved by the government
Another organization, the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) also issued a press release stating how their group “welcomes province-wide investigation of third party influences in Alberta schools.”
ARPA Canada’s Executive Director Mark Penninga stated:
“We have been working with hundreds of Albertans over the past year who are concerned about how the Minister of Education has been forcing their schools to promote a radical gender ideology that is unscientific, full of misinformation and harmful”
“Instead of showing even an ounce of regard for these concerned parents, the Minister ploughed ahead with his agenda and his secretive efforts to revamp the entire education system using “experts” that he refuses to make public.”
What about last year’s student complaint?
As I have watched this story unfold I have been struck with the hypocrisy and double standard from the Minister of Education.
Last spring I published the following student complaint on my blog regarding an in-school presentation from Calgary Sexual Health.
An older brother wrote to me about the distress his Grade 7 sister experienced following that presentation:
“My youngest sister came home upset from sex ed yesterday. The guest speaker in her class taught that gender is in the mind, totally separate from the body. That for the purposes of sexuality and puberty, there are no males and females but “people with penises” and “people with vaginas”. That “some people” grow more facial hair than others. The speaker lumped the changes that come with puberty (breast development, facial hair, etc.) together into one degendered list. According to my sister, many of her classmates were confused. Some of them, not knowing what else to think, just accepted it.
Well, I don’t believe it. And I don’t think many people do. We believe there are such things as male bodies and female bodies, that gender corresponds with chromosomes and primary sex characteristics. The problem is that people with ordinary beliefs aren’t generally the ones volunteering to write sex ed curriculum or give presentations about sex to children. I don’t think this means kids need to be pulled out of sex ed, but I think it does mean that parents now will have to thoroughly educate their kids at young ages so they can reject the garbage they hear from guest speakers, and maybe help their classmates reject it too.”
Even more striking is the fact that I personally brought this student’s complaint to the attention of the Minister of Education during a May 25th meeting last year.
In fact, I provided David Eggen with a handout of the Genderbread Person (the predecessor to the Gender Unicorn), expressing my concern as an educator that such information was being presented as factual by Calgary Sexual Health when it wasn’t even part of the curriculum.
But what did our Minister of Education do then?
Where is an equivalent amount of outrage from our Education Minister over that student’s distress and Calgary Sexual Health’s presentation of “facts” that many people would consider medically inaccurate information?
Questions that must be answered
So here are some of my own personal follow-up questions for the Minister of Education:
1. Why does the Minister of Education have a “big problem” with a pro-life group doing a presentation in a Catholic school, but will still allow a group like the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services (iSMSS) to conduct “Fyrefly in Schools” presentations to Alberta students – even after iSMSS has severely violated the public trust by providing links to K-12 children that led to articles with sexually graphic images of BDSM and advice to “pay for porn”?
2. Why does the Minister of Education continue to allow a resource published by the Alberta Teachers’ Association to be used in Alberta classrooms when it is teaches (and even assesses) the Gender Unicorn as a “more authentic way of understanding gender”?
3. When it comes to sexual education in school, does the Genderbread Person/Gender Unicorn perspective represent Alberta Education’s new standard of “scientifically factual” and “medically accurate” sexual education information? Will that perspective be mandated as “fact” in the new curriculum?
The requests of AIM and ARPA for a full and immediate investigation into all third-party sexual health presenters in Alberta school districts are long overdue and much needed.
It is about time that the Minister of Education sets a clear and publicly available standard as to what Alberta Education deems appropriate and factual for use in Alberta schools.