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The appropriation of sex education by conservative populism

Faculty Advisor




sex education, populism, education policy, curriculum change, Ontario, “post-truth”, Doug Ford

Abstract (summary)

Curriculum change involves struggles among political actors and interest groups, and those efforts related to sex education have been noted for their particularly vexatious character. When Doug Ford was elected Premier of Ontario, Canada in 2018, he immediately repealed the comprehensive health curriculum of 2015 and attempted to muzzle teachers during the 2018–2019 school year, only to unveil a strikingly similar “new” curriculum for 2019–2020.This article analyses Ford’s treatment of sex education as part of a conservative populist agenda. Using Critical Discourse Analysis, we divide the government’s approach into six components that illustrate how anti-elitism and fact-bending drove curriculum policy. Our analysis contributes to discussions in curriculum studies and educational politics by connecting the recently ascendant political ideologies in the West with the already contentious area of sex education.

Publication Information

Lauren Bialystok, Jessica Wright, Taylor Berzins, Caileigh Guy & Em Osborne (2020) The appropriation of sex education by conservative populism, Curriculum Inquiry, 50:4, 330-351,


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