EDMONTON—Alberta Conservative Party leadership candidate Jason Kenney says it's not up to Premier Rachel Notley to dictate how sex education is taught in the Catholic school system.
And he says Notley needlessly is divisive on a plan by Catholic school superintendents to craft an alternative sex-ed curriculum that reflects faith-based teaching.
“It's not for me or the premier to dictate to the Catholic education system how it teaches Catholic values,” Kenney told reporters late Tuesday night.
“I just wish she would stop picking fights with school boards and educators who are simply doing their best to live out their mandate,” he added.
“In this case, it's a Catholic school system that has a constitutional right to be Catholic, and I would ask our premier to respect the Constitution and those rights.”
Catholic school superintendents are drafting the alternative sex education curriculum they want the province to approve for their schools.
They say the government's teaching plan clashes with faith-based instruction by including, among other topics, homosexual relationships and gender identity different from one's biological sex.
In overview documents filed with the province, the superintendents also take issue with sexual consent by a partner in marriage.
They say it is one of many factors to be considered along with morality, family, and wellness.
Kenney said it's important to respect differences in a pluralistic society.
“Of course there should be a basic common curriculum in the school system, but then Catholic and independent and charter schools are going to have different approaches to curriculum,” he noted.
Notley, however, said any proposed curriculum that doesn't address sexual health, that marginalizes sexual minorities, and that doesn't make it clear that consent is paramount will not be taught.
“Jason Kenney is dead wrong,” Notley said yesterday.
"In 2017 I didn't think that I would have to say this, but as the premier of the province, it is my obligation to say this: being gay is not wrong.
“Engaging in safe sex is not wrong," she added. ”And under no circumstances is sex without consent ever right.
“And that is what will be taught in our schools.”
She said if the Catholic school plan arrives as advertised, it will not be taught.
Karl Germann, president of the Council of Catholic School Superintendents of Alberta, declined comment, saying as an administrator, it's not his place to publicly debate the premier.
“I would just encourage people to read and process the documents for themselves,” said Germann.