The people who were outside on the front lawn were not homophobic.
Nor were the ones inside Agincourt Collegiate.
But man were they angry.
And Premier Kathleen Wynne, who said a similar protest on the lawn of Queen’s Park was “homophobic,” will not be able to dismiss what happened in Scarborough on this Thursday night in March.
These were parents, taxpayers and voters who had something to say. They may not have gotten to say it in the meeting, but they still accomplished what they came out to do.
It was billed as a health and physical education information session with MPPs Soo Wong and Bas Balkissoon and TDSB trustees Shaun Chen and Manna Wong. It turned into a shouting match and a meeting shutdown halfway through because of an unruly, frustrated crowd.
Things started out with a couple hundred protesters outside from the Parents Alliance of Ontario protesting, holding signs and chanting. Inside, Balkissoon attempted to run a workshop with a screen showing charts and facts and figures about the Liberals’ new curriculum. The plan was to have health and education professionals explain what is in the document — but many in the crowd were not interested in listening.
Balkissoon warned them several times to behave or he would “call” the meeting.
But several in the audience were heckling the presentations. Some parents tried to get those shouting to stop, but what ended up happening was yelling back and forth and heated exchanges.
One guy in the middle of it was holding a small child and others were screaming at the top of their lungs. It was an awkward sight.
Tempers were flaring.
“You don’t mess with people and their kids,” said former TDSB trustee Sam Sotiropoulos. “There will be more protests.”The battle that is Ontario’s new sex education curriculum rages.
On one side, you have a majority government who so far does not seem willing to make any adjustments to the controversial curriculum that was withdrawn in 2010 after similar outrage. On the other, you have a growing opposition who are determined to accomplish what they were able to do in 2010.
“Nobody in school authority should be teaching children about anal sex or oral sex,” said an angry Jewell McGregor. “The way this went off it seems that they are saying we are all a bunch of idiots, but I think any adult who wants to teach anal and oral sex to children has something wrong with them.”
But MPP Wong argued that these kinds of things are “myths” and “young people need to have the facts to make healthy choices.”
So that’s the highlights. However, what really happened at this meeting was the Wynne government received the message that it’s not just religious groups or “homophobes” who they are up against as they move forward with this curriculum.
“We are primarily a Chinese-Canadian group,” said Parents Alliance of Ontario spokesman Kathryn Chang. “We generally don’t protest, but in this case we have people here tonight from Agincourt, all the way to Mississauga and Markham. People feel strongly about this.
“Teaching children these things at this age is way too soon.”
Even though the meeting was shut down this was not at all an out-of-control group. They didn’t overdo it. Part of the problem was the approach Balkissoon took when he told the crowd they were not going to “dictate” to them how the meeting was going to go, when it was them who called it.
Neither side seemed interested in what the other had to say.
The way it was set up was that people were asked to sign in and put questions into a box that would later be selected to be asked. But what these people wanted was to be able to get their time on the microphone and express their concerns about the curriculum.
From Balkissoon and Wong’s point of view, people did not come to listen but just to rabble-rouse.
“There was an agenda here,” said Wong. “People came here to hijack this meeting.”
But at the heart of it, there are things in the curriculum that need to be talked about it and reviewed. The Liberal government can easily end the angst of those opposed by simply not closing the door to further study and not dismiss those who talk about the age inappropriateness as bigots.
The people I met here were certainly not that. In fact, they were very good people. The people presenting at this meeting were not bad people either.
The answer is for both sides to sit down and talk civilly and find a middle ground. Both sides need to talk — and listen.
Our children are our most precious people.
When they are sexualized desensitized at an early age in this case through a school curriculum, they become easy target and victims to those who’d prey on them.
We have to be ever vigilant about what they’re learning.
That’s why the parents remain the best people and best equipped to talk to their children about sex matters and not the politician, government and school and teacher. “SAVR OUR CHILDREN NOW“
Parents, Liberals government need to talk and listen and not act lake dictator.
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