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Poll: Canadian Families Want Government to Leave Their Kids Alone Too

July 7, 2024

Although the U.S. media present Canada as a bastion of liberalism, a new poll suggests they may be blowing snow.

Overwhelming supermajorities of Canadian parents who have school-aged children believe school should provide them with advance notice of controversial topics, so that they can opt their children out of the discussion, according to a new poll. They also believe teachers should keep their own opinions to themselves and teach children just the facts about controversial issues — or, at a minimum, teach both sides rather than hammering propaganda into their students’ young minds.

“Canadian parents are broadly aligned on the idea that schools should leave decisions regarding controversial issues up to parents,” says the report. “Ultimately, this survey shows K-12 parents in Canada value balance rather than bias in their kids’ classrooms and that parental involvement and consent is important.”

The polling firm Leger interviewed 1,202 parents of school-aged children (ages five to 18) between March 25 and April 8.

“There is broad cross-Canada support amongst parents for parental involvement and prior consent in what children are learning in school, and for parents to remove their children from specific controversial lessons if they choose, without impacting their child’s grade,” says the report — titled “Strong Parental Support for Balance, not Bias, and Parental Involvement in K-12 Classrooms” — which was produced by the Fraser Institute, Canada’s premier free-market think tank. The survey notes that this consensus holds across every province in Canada except French-speaking Quebec, where only 45% of parents agree.

“As controversial issues about which there is seemingly no clear societal consensus are being tackled in Canadian classrooms, how involved should parents be in providing consent before controversial topics, like addressing climate change and sexuality/gender, are broached?” asked the survey, which found:

  • 70% of parents insisted, “Parents should have the right to remove their child from a specific lesson regarding a controversial issue or topic with no consequence to the child(ren)’s grade.” Schools should notify parents whether the topic is to be “discussed in K-12 classrooms or during clubs or extracurriculars,” since “some parents may wish for schools to provide them with advance notice so they may discuss the issues with their child in advance or remove their child from that specific lesson.”
  • 81% of parents insisted, “Schools should provide parents with advance notice when a controversial topic is going to be discussed in class or during formal school activities.”
  • 77% of parents agreed, “As a general rule, students should be presented both sides of controversial issues or avoid them entirely.”
  • 86% of parents said that “[t]eachers and curriculum in K-12 should focus on providing students with facts, and a learning environment within which students can openly explore facts,” instead of their “teachers’ interpretations of those facts, which can include opinions.”
  • 91% of parents think classroom material and discussions should always be age-appropriate. Although not specifically asked, Canadians may favor a law akin to the Parental Rights in Education Act signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), which says a “school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels,” and only in an age-appropriate manner in subsequent grades. State Senator Shevrin Jones (D), who identifies as homosexual, opposed the bill on the grounds that “these children are more smarter [sic] than we think they are.”

“With ongoing debates across Canada impacting K-12 classrooms, school policies and curriculum development, what we can glean from this parent survey is that a clear majority of parents across Canada want facts presented in classrooms rather than a teacher’s interpretation or opinions,” said report co-author Paige MacPherson, associate director of Education Studies at the Fraser Institute.

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.