Unbeknownst to many parents, there has been an increasing trend toward integrating sexuality and gender content beyond just health classes into different subject areas, particularly under the banner of “non-discrimination”, “human rights”, “equality”, “respect for diversity” and “anti-bullying”.
PCE has received many first-hand reports from Alberta parents and students who were deeply troubled by the sexuality and gender content provided in their classrooms, which went far beyond what they expected to be included. The following are five examples:
FIRST-HAND REPORT #1:
A concerned older brother in Calgary described the distress of his Grade 7 sister after a classroom presentation by the Calgary Sexual Health Centre (now called “Centre for Sexuality”):
“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.”
FIRST-HAND REPORT #2:
A mother of a junior high student in Edmonton happened to flip through her son’s notebook and was alarmed to see a handout from a guest speaker, who she had no idea had even come to her son’s class.
The handout for children included a diagram demonstrating that a person’s biological sex is completely independent from their gender identity, gender expression and orientation/attraction, as well as a glossary explaining terms such as cisgender, non-binary, genderqueer, gender fluid, agender, asexual, aromantic, pansexual and demisexual. (view photos of handout).
FIRST-HAND REPORT #3:
An Alberta dad learned about some books on a recommended resources list from SOGI 123, an organization providing Alberta teachers with tools and resources to help integrate SOGI topics into K-12 classrooms (note that “SOGI” refers to “sexual orientation and gender identity”).
He shared his alarm over the explicit sexual content:
“Sex is a Funny Word” is recommended for children ages 8-10. Some topics and images addressed in the book include breasts, penises, anuses, vaginas and erections. The text describes how touching “middle parts” can “feel good” and illustrations show children masturbating. (view page photos - WARNING: Sexually graphic material)
“This Book is Gay” is listed as young adult. A young adult (YA) rating in literature is generally assumed for children ages 12-18. Some topics addressed include: encouraging sexual experimentation, going to gay bars, using sex toys, using sex apps, descriptions of different sex acts and encouraging the use of pornography (page 169 states that “Basically, porn is fine and fun...”). If this book is not meant for school-age children then it should not be promoted on a booklist for K-12 teachers. (view page photos - WARNING: Sexually graphic material)
In addition, PCE is aware of SOGI 123 workshop slides presented to teachers which have been shared on social media, including one entitled “Introducing SOGI from K-3: Use Story Time or Visuals to Facilitate Topics”. This slide demonstrates how some teachers are encouraged to intentionally use story time as an entry point for topics about sexual orientation and gender identity for 5 to 8 year olds. (view slide)
Notably, the last bullet point on the workshop slide reads “Gender is a spectrum. Some people identify as girls, some as boys, some as neither boy nor girl and some as both boy and girl. This is different than what your parents/teachers have been taught and something that you may need to teach them!”
FIRST-HAND REPORT #4:
An Alberta student diagnosed with autism, along with her parents, described the heartbreaking trauma experienced after the student attended a fYrefly in Schools presentation with her class. Here are excerpts from the written testimonies of the student and her father, which were filed in an Alberta court challenge:
“… after attending the fYrefly Presentation, I started having persistent thoughts that I am more masculine than feminine, that I was really a boy trapped in a girl’s body and that I am attracted to girls. I have felt very screwed up by these thoughts. Prior to hearing the fYrefly Presentation, I had never once had these thoughts. These ideas were presented to me for the first time by the two fYrefly presenters.”
“I know that I am a girl, but I feel tormented by these thoughts that I have a guy’s brain and I feel like a guy.”
“I believe it is so wrong for people to be pushing all this information about gender and sexuality on kids.”
“… our daughter’s teacher acknowledges that the children were told at the fYrefly Presentation not to go home and tell their parents.”
“… [our daughter] felt anxious and confused during the fYrefly Presentation and wanted to leave, but felt that she was not allowed to.”
“This compulsive fixation that she is a boy has had a devastating effect on our daughter. She has experienced extreme anxiety, confusion and emotional and psychological turmoil.”
“Now, over a year after the Fyrefly Presentation, our daughter still believes she is a boy trapped in a girls’ body. The trust between ourselves and the educational system has been broken… We had provided our express direction that our daughter not be exposed to concepts and ideas about sexuality that we knew she was not ready for. But with the fYrefly Presentation, our instructions were disregard and our vulnerable daughter has suffered and continues to suffer as result.”
FIRST-HAND REPORT #5:
A former Alberta teacher, mother and blogger, Theresa Ng (who worked for PCE for a number of years) raised the alarm in 2016 about a teacher resource published by the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA), called the PRISM Toolkit, which outlines for teachers how to integrate topics of gender fluidity and sexual orientation across all subject areas.
While the ATA claimed this was an optional resource for teachers, Theresa Ng aptly pointed out that it was not optional for a captive audience of students if a teacher decides to use it.
Theresa described many concerns with the PRISM Toolkit in her blog articles “You think you know what Alberta students learn in school?” as well as “You’re testing my child on… what?”, including:
- The only “correct” answer for an assessment question in Biology 30/Science 9 requires students to respond with the “Gender Spectrum” as a “more authentic way of understanding gender”. The Gender Spectrum demonstrates that gender is fluid, subjective, not connected to biology, and exists on a spectrum of limitless possibilities.
- A biologically-based “binary” understanding of gender as male/female is described as “overly simplistic”, “misleading” and “exclusionary and harmful”.
- Binary language is deemed “restrictive” and teachers are urged to “break the linguistic binary” in order to “practice allyship”.
PCE has been informed that the PRISM Toolkit continues to be distributed to current and pre-service teachers across the province, including past 4th year Education students at King’s University College in Edmonton.
Theresa also found and brought to public awareness the fact that organizations were providing resources to K-12 students and teachers which included sexually graphic material. Despite this incredible breach of public trust, these organizations continue to access Alberta students to provide support in the areas of health, sexuality and gender.
All of the examples provided above are drawn from the first-hand experiences of Alberta students and parents.
As a result, many parents are left wondering:
When it comes to my own child and their specific classroom and school, how do I know whether similar lessons, books, teacher resources, support websites and guest speakers are being provided?
If this is an area of concern for you then it is extremely important that you take an active role in finding answers and resolving your concerns.
The first step toward that goal is equipping yourself with an understanding of the content provided on this page, including information about notification and opt-out rights, limitations to those rights, different approaches to sexual education and strategies to help keep lines of communication open between you, your child and your child’s school.
Return to the Health and Sexual Education page.