Ottawa

Reaction swift after Catholic school board pulls book

Reaction has been swift — and overwhelmingly critical — to a decision by the Ottawa Catholic School Board to remove a book depicting two boys kissing from elementary school library shelves.

Graphic novel Drama, which depicts 2 boys kissing, removed from elementary school shelves

Several people shared their concerns about a book featuring LGBT characters being pulled from elementary school shelves. (Raina Telgemeier)

Reaction has been swift — and overwhelmingly critical — to a decision by the Ottawa Catholic School Board to remove a book depicting two boys kissing from elementary school library shelves.

The school board pulled Drama, a 2012 graphic novel by American author and illustrator Raina Telgemeier, from its elementary schools, but said the book is still available to older students at its middle and high schools.

On Tuesday, Telgemeier took to social media to express her displeasure.

It makes it harder for young people to find themselves and makes it harder for young people to know there are other people like them.- Lyra Evans, OCDSB trustee

Lyra Evans, a transgender woman who was recently elected to the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, said pulling the book sends kids the wrong message.

"It makes it harder for young people to find themselves and makes it harder for young people to know there are other people like them," she said.

Lyra Evans, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board trustee says removing the book Drama sends the wrong message to young kids. 0:37

"It leaves people without a person they think they can turn to or without that feeling of understanding there are other people like them."

Evans points to fairy tales such as Beauty and the Beast or Snow White, which feature heterosexual relationships.

"It's all straight relationships, and those things are viewed as completely normal and fine for an age group all the way down to two, whereas an LGBTQ relationship has a lot more focus and spotlight placed on it."

Others offered to buy copies of the book to donate to the Ottawa Public Library, where there's a wait list for the book.

Somerset Ward Coun. Catherine McKenney also voiced her shock and surprise at the Catholic school board's move.

"I found it rather silly, really, but appalling at the same time," McKenney said. "This is a school board, responsible for the education, the well-being, social, mental well-being of children in the community, and this is doing the exact opposite."

McKenney said she's worried the move could lead to bullying. 

This is the type of book that you need in the school, that you need kids to be reading.- Coun. Catherine McKenney

"This is the type of book that you need in the school, that you need kids to be reading. It normalizes everyone's relationship, and it's a good thing," she said.

McKenney has also offered to donate 10 copies of the book to the Ottawa Public Library to help shorten the wait list.

Somerset Ward Coun. Catherine McKenney says pulling the book will put kids at risk. 0:56

Here's more reaction to the Catholic school board's decision.