On Thursday March 26, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne attempted a futile dialogue with parents who gathered in Mississauga to protest planned changes to the province’s sex-ed curriculum. After hosting a meet and greet for media members, Wynne tried to open a dialogue with the protestors, only to be drowned out by cries of “Shame on you”, “We say no”, “Resign” and “No more liberals”. The protest was apparently intended to be a “silent demonstration” outside of Wynne’s media diversity event.
The new sex-education curriculum, which would be the first update since 1998, would teach elementary school children about consent and gender identity in grade two and three, and about masturbation, anal and oral sex in grade six. To put it lightly, these changes have not been met with reasonable response from stronglyconservative parents in the province. From one parent, quoted in The Toronto Star, saying that “it’s grooming [children] to change their identity to become homosexuals” to Tory MP Cheryl Gallant arguing that the new curriculum would help child molesters by “[grooming] children for exploitation”, the criticism has been aggressive to say the least. While these quotes are clearly “cherry-picked”, the fact is that there a thousands protesting in kind at full volume.
There will always be a dissenting opinion; our government involves multiple political parties, some people like chocolate and some like vanilla. The reality is that dissenting opinion is valuable, to keep the loudest or most popular choice in check, to maintain a balance. When one side of a debate decides not to listen, then it really isn’t a debate anymore.
Have you ever tried arguing with someone who is utterly convinced of their own argument, as if they are sure they have nothing to learn?
Worthy of consideration in this context is the “Dunning-Kurger” effect, a cognitive bias, wherein the unskilled are unable to accurately assess themselves, and thus gain an unrealistic superiority. The vice versa is also true, with the most skilled judging themselves to the extent that they undervalue their own ability. This goes hand in hand with the Voltaire quote, “the more you know the less sure you are”.
When you decide that you know everything — which you can’t — then you stop learning – which you must not do. For the progression of our ourselves as individuals and as a society, we need open minds and a healthy doubt in our personal knowledge, no matter how sickening the oppositions views are, whether they be pro-life, radical sex-ed supporters, or pop country music fans. It’s for our own good to hear each other out, no matter who is wrong.