Association for Political and Legal Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
In February 2015, the Ontario Liberal government introduced a new sexual education curriculum, according to which certain aspects of health and sexuality were taught at an earlier age than before, and some new topics were added. The introduction of the new curriculum caused an uproar in many communities throughout Ontario, including the Russian-speaking immigrant community, which was one of the most vocal in its opposition to the 2015 sex-ed curriculum arguing that this education reform contradicted their family values and that at stake was the future and well-being of their children. One of the popular slogans during these protests was “Science, not Sex; Math, not Masturbation,” a clear indication that immigrant parents expected school (and the Canadian state) not to interfere with morality and values that they saw as an exclusive domain of family. Building on my fieldwork with Russian-speaking immigrants in Toronto, I discuss moral concerns of people who perceive liberal politics of the Canadian government as a threat to their family well-being. One of the fears shared by the community is that the government interferes with what they perceive as a normal and desired reproduction of their families, and not just biologically, by allegedly encouraging and popularizing same-sex relationships, but also socially and culturally. I explore how immigrants manage their fears, what practices they employ to mitigate the perceived damage, and show how their anxieties turn them to support the populist social, political, and cultural agenda, which is currently represented by the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.