Skip to main content

Canada Transgender girl says Ontario’s repeal of sex-ed curriculum made her nervous about returning to school

A transgender girl fighting the Ontario government’s repeal of a modernized sex-ed curriculum says she felt nervous about returning to school last fall after the policy change was announced.

The 11-year-old, identified only as AB, testified Tuesday before Ontario’s human rights tribunal in a case focusing on how rolling back the curriculum impacts LGBTQ students.

The girl said she wasn’t sure how classmates would treat her given that subjects such as gender identity and gender expression would no longer be required to be taught and discussed.

Story continues below advertisement

She also voiced concerns about going to a bigger school next year for Grade 7.

“I don’t know what the students have been taught,” she said.

Her lawyers have argued the switch to a curriculum that does not include the word “transgender” means the girl is subject to unequal treatment because those who are not transgender will learn about their sexual orientation.

Schools are currently using a curriculum based on a version from 1998 while the government develops and tests a new document.

Lawyers for the Progressive Conservative government have argued the curriculum leaves room for teachers to discuss LGBTQ issues, adding teachers are left to “exercise professional judgment.”

They noted the current curriculum includes language that calls for teachers to provide a safe and inclusive learning environment.

AB told the tribunal Tuesday that she first heard about transgender people in early 2017 while watching an episode of the reality television show “Say Yes to the Dress” that featured a transgender bride.

Story continues below advertisement

It wasn’t something she had yet been taught in school and the knowledge was transformative, she said. “I felt like I could be my true self,” she testified.

Had she known about it at a younger age, “I would have transitioned earlier,” she said.

Soon, AB had chosen a new name and replaced all her clothes with new ones that made her “feel complete,” she said. “They were pink, had glitter,” she said.

Some students mocked her clothes or insisted that she stay in another room while they changed during an overnight field trip, she said. But the teachers were supportive, she said.

In health class that year, students were shown videos on male puberty, female puberty and puberty in general, she said.

The videos didn’t recognize that not all people of the same gender have the same genitalia, she said, so AB chose to do a presentation to help educate her classmates.

Story continues below advertisement

She said her classmates seemed to respond well to discussions around gender identity and still wanted her to play and do activities with them.

AB was watching the news with her mother last summer when she heard the modernized curriculum was being repealed by the government, she said.

“I felt angry,” she said.

There has been no discussion of gender expression in class so far this year, she said.

The tribunal is set to hear the case over 10 days, with a decision planned for sometime in the spring.

The Progressive Conservative government’s decision to scrap the updated curriculum brought in by their Liberal predecessors is also being challenged in a separate court case.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter