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Professor Lauren Bialystok on Understanding the Controversy over Sexuality Education in Ontario 

June 28, 2018
photo of Professor Bialystok and her team
Professor Bialystok (bottom left) with her research team. Clockwise from left: graduate students Taylor Berzins, Maria Ahmed, Caileigh Guy, and Jessica Wright. (Photo by Jo Lyn-Piluso)
Professor Lauren Bialystok, one of over 100 OISE researchers who attended Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences this spring, presented her ongoing research on the reception of the 2015 Ontario Heath and Physical Education (HPE) curriculum as it relates to sexuality education. The curriculum has become a lightning rod for divisive debates about Canadian culture and sexual values.
Professor Bialystok seeks clarification on the nature of this conflict and on how to mediate diverse views about public policy. What are the values and goals underlying different approaches to sexuality and education? To address this and related questions, Professor Bialystok is interviewing a diverse range of stakeholders, including policy makers, curriculum writers, parents, and sexuality education experts. She surmises that in part the fundamental disagreement evidenced in media discussions belies common goals yet stems from profoundly diverging views on how to implement these goals. 
Professor Bialystok’s presentation at Congress was derived from her Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)-funded project on the perceived aims of sexuality education in Ontario. In 2017, she organized a workshop and established an online hub for the community of sexuality educators and researchers across the province. Ultimately, she seeks to theorize the principled management of dissent over public education and to support initiatives to improve sexual education in Ontario.