EdCan Network, Policy

Church vs. State

Debating the role of religious beliefs in public education

Repealing sex-ed, pitting religious beliefs against knowledge on human development

Followers of Ontario’s politics will note that the debate over sex-ed has rehashed: controversial 2015 revisions to the curriculum for elementary and secondary students under current Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne. With provincial elections set for June, the recent election of Doug Ford as leader of the Progressive Conservative (PC) party – who has vowed to repeal these revisions – Ontario’s schools may see a shift toward sex-ed lessons that no longer introduce the concept of gender identity and sexual orientation in the third grade, as well as sexting, contraception, consent, and optional prompts about anal and oral sex in middle school.

Former PC leadership race opponent Tanya Granic Allen had also vowed to repeal the revisions, citing the curriculum as the impetus for low test scores. Granic Allen is now seeking party nomination for the new riding of Mississauga Centre, amid controversial posts she made on social media about Muslims and gays. Premier Wynne has criticized PC Leader Ford, who has benefitted from the support of Granic Allen’s backers since her unsuccessful run for PC leadership, for not having barred her from the nominations race.

“I was told that I didn’t need sexual health education”: women reflect on their experiences with sex-ed

Amid these debates and similar developments having taken place in Alberta, Flare Magazine published an article last week where six Canadian women between the ages of 23 to 32 discuss how their experiences with sex-ed had created negative emotions, fear, and had ill-equipped them for real-life experiences.

“Secularism is not neutral”: Alberta panel discussion on religion in public schools underscores role of “religious literacy” in combating discrimination and violence

A First Nations Knowledge Keeper, a rabbi, an Ismaili Muslim, a Sunni Muslim, and an Anglican Minister convened at The King’s University in Edmonton to discuss the role that an academic and critical study of religions, rather than a theological one – could play in teaching students to disagree peacefully on complex matters. The event was held in view of a research paper published by King’s, Edmonton Catholic School Board, and the University of Alberta, with 2010 EdCan Network Pat Clifford Award winner Carla L. Peck as co-author.

Ontario Ministry of Ed. questions Halton Catholic fundraising policy

This past January, the Board of Trustees of Ontario’s Halton Catholic District School Board passed a motion that outlines the types of organization and initiatives its schools can support through fundraising and donations, including organizations that directly or indirectly support abortion, contraception, sterilization, euthanasia or embryonic stem cell research. Ontario education minister Indira Naidoo-Harris sent a letter to the Board last Wednesday, calling for a rethink and greater consultation with parents and community, after citing having received numerous complaints.


Get up-to-speed on what’s making news in Canadian education in five minutes.

Sign up to receive what our staff will curate for you every two weeks.

Meet the Expert(s)

André Rebeiz

André Rebeiz

Research Manager for the EdCan Network - Responsable de la recherche pour le Réseau ÉdCan

André makes research fun and exciting through creating knowledge and awareness-building tools including infographics, fact sheets, videos, podcasts, and marketing campaigns that advance evidence-info...

Read More