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IN Community: Publisher Pulls Sex-Ed Textbooks Used By Ontario Catholic Schools

Move follows accusations that the texts contain anti-LGBTQ2+ content…

By Jumol Royes 

Pearson Canada has stopped printing the Fully Alive textbooks used by Catholic schools in Ontario and will cease hosting online content in March. 

The move comes on the heels of criticism from within and outside of the Catholic education community that the texts contain anti-LGBTQ2+ content and cultivate a learning environment that is harmful to LGBTQ2+ students and their families.   

Familiar to both past and current Ontario Catholic elementary school students, the Fully Alive series teaches sex-ed from a Catholic perspective to students in grades one through eight and covers topics like health, hygiene, sexuality and family life. 

Critics allege that the textbooks are not inclusive and promote homophobia and transphobia.

“They provide developing minds as young as grade one with sexualized notions of self that adhere with the Catholic faith but are at odds with the reality of science and nature,” said Kyle Iannuzzi, a 2SLGBTQ advisory committee member and former student trustee at the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB), in a recent interview with CBC Toronto

“It really fosters an experience of loneliness and I think it contributes to the reasons why self-harm is such an option for queer kids, especially in Catholic environments.”

Pearson Canada stopped printing the textbooks in December – six months after Iannuzzi first filed a complaint with the publisher – but the online content continued to be accessible. That is until CBC News contacted Pearson Canada earlier this month and received email confirmation that it will end its support for the digital versions by March, without providing a reason why. 

Paolo De Buono is a current TCDSB teacher who runs a website that is critical of the Fully Alive curriculum. He takes issue with its content, specifically a sex-ed unit taught in grade three titled “Created Sexual: Male and Female,” which he considers to be “by intention homophobic.” 

De Buono stopped using Fully Alive last year, objecting to teaching students “that sexual love should only occur in a male-female marriage (in which children should only be born or adopted) and that persons should identify by gender with the gender (male or female) attributed to them at birth.”  

Despite Pearson Canada’s recent decision, the Fully Alive program will continue to be taught in Ontario Catholic Schools. 

The Catholic Register is reporting that the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops and Ontario’s Institute for Catholic Education intend to take over online support for the program. The textbooks were originally published with their approval. 

An email statement from the Institute for Catholic Education said that “in choosing to send their students to a Catholic school, parents rightly expect that the presentation of a family life curriculum will reflect a Catholic view of human life, sexuality, marriage and family.”

It should be noted that Catholic schools in Ontario are publicly funded.

JUMOL ROYES is IN Magazine’s director of communications and community engagement, a GTA-based storyteller and glass-half-full kinda guy. He writes about compassion, community, identity and belonging. His guilty pleasure is watching the Real Housewives. Follow him on Instagram @jumolroyes.  

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