News / Toronto

Feeling abandoned on sex ed, social conservatives boo both Wynne and Brown

About 200 protesters chanted outside Queen's Park as they pressed the government to repeal the curriculum and slammed Brown over a recent flip-flop.

Protesters take aim at PC leader Patrick Brown for supporting sex-ed curriculum as well as Kathleen Wynne.

torstar news service

Protesters take aim at PC leader Patrick Brown for supporting sex-ed curriculum as well as Kathleen Wynne.

Parents fighting Ontario’s year-old sex education curriculum booed Premier Kathleen Wynne and Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown at a protest Wednesday.

Standing in front of the Legislature, about 200 protesters chanted “hear my voice, it’s my child and my choice” as they pressed the government to repeal the curriculum and slammed Brown for supporting it after a recent flip-flop.

“Kathleen Wynne, are you listening? Patrick Brown, are you listening?” mother of four Tanya Granic Allen shouted to the crowd, calling parts of the curriculum “age inappropriate.”

“Most parents don’t want their kids learning about masturbation alongside Canadian history,” added Allen, who heads a group opposed to the curriculum.

While controversy over the updated lessons had faded since protests last winter, the issue is a hot topic again thanks to Brown’s office.

During the Sept. 1 Scarborough-Rouge River byelection, Brown’s chief of staff, Nicolas Pappalardo, held secret talks before the Tories circulated 13,000 letters vowing to “scrap” the sex-education curriculum if elected in 2018.

The Aug. 24 missive in English and Chinese was signed by Brown — though he claimed he did not know about it — even though Pappalardo and party president Rick Dykstra and others did.

Sex education was a big issue during the byelection, which was won by Conservative Raymond Cho, and the Tories feared losing votes to Queenie Yu, an independent candidate opposed to the curriculum.

Yu, a former PC Fund staffer, ended up finishing a respectable fourth with more than 500 votes‎.

Brown has apologized, saying “a mistake was made,” and stressed a PC government would retain the modernized curriculum.

But he has always claimed he was out of the loop.

The syllabus includes lessons on gender expression, same-sex relationships, and the dangers of sexting.

During last year’s PC leadership campaign, Brown had assured social conservatives in writing that he “will repeal it.”

That was the same theme his office used in quiet negotiations last month with groups like Allen’s opposed to the curriculum.

“To borrow a line from Patrick Brown, two weeks ago before his flip-flop on the flip-flop, I too believe that parents are the first educators of their children,” Allen told the protest.

Social conservatives, whom Brown courted in his 2015 leadership campaign, say they feel abandoned by him now.