New sex education curriculum for Ontario announced

Ontario has unveiled its new, long-delayed updates to physical and health education, including sex education. This includes many of the changes in the ill-fated proposal from 2010, which HAT had supported but that the government withdrew under pressure from fundamentalist groups. It also includes some new topics.

A good summary of the changes from the Toronto Star is here.

If you want to exam the curriculum in all its detail, here are the pdf files from the Ministry of Education website. (Note that these are the full health/phys ed curriculum. Sex education requirements are part of the "healthy living" strand in each grade's curriculum.)

The curriculum for Grades 1-8: See pp. 92-95, 106-110, 120-124, 139-144, 155-160, 171-177, 194-201, 214-220 for Healthy Living strands.

The curriculum for Grades 9-12: See pp. 101-108, 120-126, 139-144, 154-160

Catholic schools force students to study religion despite court order

From today's Globe and Mail:

Catholic schools in Ontario are requiring students to take religious courses despite a recent court decision that ruled they can’t be forced to attend.

In multiple correspondences reviewed by The Globe and Mail, Catholic school board officials from across the province have denied requests from Catholic high-school students that they be excused from religious studies on the basis that their parents are Catholic school ratepayers.

All of those students requested the exemptions for academic reasons, in hopes of spending more time on courses important to university applications and apprenticeship programs. But the boards contend that Catholic students aren’t eligible for the exemption because they aren’t eligible to attend public schools.

For the full story:

UK Catholics intensify campaign against same sex marriage

UK Catholics intensify campaign against same sex marriage
LONDON — The Roman Catholic Church stepped up its campaign against civil gay marriage, with a letter from two senior archbishops being read out at services in 2,500 churches on Sunday.
The letter from Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and Archbishop Peter Smith, the Archbishop of Southwark, said it was their “duty” to defend the institution of marriage.
“Changing the legal definition of marriage would be a profoundly radical step. Its consequences should be taken seriously now,” Nichols and Smith said in the letter, which was being read out at parish churches in England and Wales.
“We have a duty to married people today, and to those who come after us, to do all we can to ensure that the true meaning of marriage is not lost for future generations.”
Prime Minister David Cameron’s government will later this month launch a formal consultation on plans to introduce same-sex civil marriages before the next general election in 2015.
One week ago Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, said the plans were “madness”.
But a poll in the right-leaning Sunday Telegraph newspaper showed public support for the proposals, with 45 percent saying they supported the move to legalise gay marriage, 36 percent opposing it.

The Mormons and the Dead - and Romney and sluts

The Mormons and the Dead | Common Dreams
he good new is they’ve been told to stop. The bad news is that may prove to be impossible. Mitt Romney has no opinion. He’ll let the church speak for him. The issue goes back to 1995 and it was supposed to come to a halt then. The thing that was to have been stopped was posthumous baptism.
The Mormons believe that their beliefs are the only ones that guarantee their followers a decent seat in heaven. Being generous in nature, they are eager to share their good fortune with those who did not join them while on earth. To remedy the non-Mormons’ oversights, it was disclosed in 1995 that posthumous baptism had become something of a large-scale operation here on earth by Mormons eager to share their good fortune with non-Mormons. According to Mormon theology, former humans have “free agency” and the posthumous baptisms provide only an opportunity and not an obligation to join the church in the afterlife. The way it probably works is that once in heaven and baptized posthumously, the beneficiaries of the process are summoned by some divine being and told that as a result of earthly activities by Mormons, they have the opportunity to spend eternity in a different venue from that in which they were prior to the announcement. If the Mormon digs are more attractive they can accept the baptism and move in with the Mormons and, if not, stay put.
One of the things that was revealed in 1995 was that Adolph Hitler had been posthumously baptized. Mr. Hitler probably welcomed any opportunity to move from where he had thought himself destined to spend eternity and was happy to join the Mormons. (The only reason he might have hesitated was that the Mormons had posthumously baptized more than 380,000 holocaust victims, including, among others, Anne Frank, and Hitler might have had some hesitation about moving in with those who were there because of him.)..

Asked to comment about former drug addict, Rush Limbaugh’s comments that Sandra Fluke, a woman he called a “slut” and a “prostitute”, should be required to post online sex videos if taxpayers were paying for contraception, Mr. Romney courageously said, so as not to offend Mr. Limbaugh: “Well, that isn’t language I would have used.” Elie Wiesel, a holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate whose father was posthumously turned into a Mormon, asked Mr. Romney to denounce posthumous baptisms, a practice in which Mr. Romney said in a 2008 interview he had not “recently” participated. His campaign referred the question to church officials. As time goes on we will learn if the Mormons in fact abandon posthumous baptism. We will also learn whether Mr. Romney encounters something that he feels REALLY strongly about.

Does religion belong at AA? Fight over ‘God’ splits Toronto AA groups

STAR: Does religion belong at AA? Fight over ‘God’ splits Toronto AA groups

AA uses 'fellowship' to help chronic drinkers quit the bottle. But there is little fellowship in a schism that splintered the Alcoholics Anonymous umbrella group in the GTA this week.

At issue is this question: Do alcoholics need God? On Tuesday, Toronto’s two secular AA groups, known as Beyond Belief and We Agnostics, were removed or 'delisted' from the roster of local meetings. They’ve disappeared from the Toronto AA website and will not be in the next printed edition of the Toronto directory.

The dispute started when Beyond Belief posted an adapted version of AA’s hallowed “Twelve Steps” on the Toronto website. They removed the word “God” from the steps, which are used as a kind of road map to help drinkers achieve sobriety.

'They took issue with a public display of secular AA,' says Joe C., who founded Beyond Belief, Toronto’s first agnostic AA group, 18 months ago. (In keeping with AA’s tradition of anonymity, members are identified by first names only.)

It proved popular enough that a second group started up last fall; it took its name from a chapter in the AA bible entitled Alcoholics Anonymous, commonly known as the Big Book. The group, We Agnostics, had only recently completed the paperwork to be part of AA before being booted out. 'What is unusual is that this didn’t happen in some backwater, but that it happened in a liberal, democratic, pluralistic place like Toronto,' says Joe.

The name of God appears four times in the Twelve Steps and echoes the period in which they were written — the 1930s. It invites those seeking sobriety to turn themselves over to God, who will remove their 'defects of character.' They go on to speak of God’s will for the recovering alcoholic.

'They (the altered Twelve Steps) are not our Twelve Steps,' says an AA member who was at Tuesday’s meeting of the coordinating body known as the Greater Toronto Area Intergroup. 'They’ve changed them to their own personal needs. They should never have been listed in the first place.' He says that in the early days of AA, meetings ended with the Lord’s Prayer. 'That has obviously stopped in all but hard-core groups. We welcome people with open arms. In our group we still say the Lord’s Prayer. One guy was uncomfortable with that. I told him to just step back when we pray. He does. He’s doing what he needs to do for him.'

The issue of AA’s use of God has come up frequently over the past 50 years. For the most part, the organization — which claims 113,000 groups around the world — permits other agencies to imitate its program, but not to call themselves Alcoholics Anonymous.
Other secular organizations, including Save our Selves (or Secular Organizations for Sobriety), offer addiction help similar to AA. But with some 100,000 members in 2005, SOS is far less popular than AA, which reports a membership of about two million. In Toronto alone, there are 500 AA meetings a week.

'This is not the first we’ve gone up against bigotry,' says Larry of We Agnostics. 'This has been an ongoing struggle in North America.'