Reaction swift after Catholic school board pulls book
Graphic novel Drama, which depicts 2 boys kissing, removed from elementary school shelves
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.
Yes, DRAMA got banned in Ottawa’s Catholic elementary schools. And all this time we thought Canada was our most progressive sibling! <br><br>I’m sad for the kids who need this book but can’t access it. <a href="https://t.co/wx6pK6TBPS">https://t.co/wx6pK6TBPS</a>—@goraina
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.
Kids should grow up seeing LGBTQ relationships as normal, and not devious or wrong. Pulling this book out of Catholic elementary schools gives precisely the wrong impression. <a href="https://t.co/T3OwcK6wvJ">https://t.co/T3OwcK6wvJ</a>—@Lyra_evans_ott
"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.
"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.
Hey <a href="https://twitter.com/opl_bpo?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@opl_bpo</a>- I see from your <a href="https://twitter.com/CBCOttawa?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CBCOttawa</a> interview there's a long wait-list for kids to get their hands on the book Drama. <br><br>If I pick up a some new copies, can I donate them at my local branch? I believe it's important for LGBT kids to see themselves reflected in stories.—@MavenOfMayhem
Somerset Ward Coun. Catherine McKenney also voiced her shock and surprise at the Catholic school board's move.
My kid can’t get enough <a href="https://twitter.com/goraina?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@goraina</a> books. She is a confident, compassionate & sensitive kid. What is not healthy is creating space that denies her family experience. Catholic board pulls book with LGBT characters from elementary libraries<a href="https://t.co/JSGgcqcQmv">https://t.co/JSGgcqcQmv</a> <a href="https://t.co/PpZjQT2lE1">pic.twitter.com/PpZjQT2lE1</a>—@cmckenney
"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.
Here's more reaction to the Catholic school board's decision.
Would it have been banned if it was a boy and a girl sharing a kiss?—@GordonNowlan
I hope they also pulled Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. Because I wouldn't want my kids to think it's normal to get woken up by some random weirdo kissing you and that a normal reaction would then be to marry the perv. :p—@lesliemeerburg
Disappointed with how <a href="https://twitter.com/CBCOttawa?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CBCOttawa</a> has framed this story. The book, as per publisher, is written for middle-school age and older children. It is appropriate that it be removed from the k-6 libraries. Aligning this with the censorship in Texas is sensationalizing a non-story.—@CVillenet
My daughter, who is, as far as we know, not part of the LGBTQ community, read this book in grade 5 and LOVED it. Two boys kissing was no big deal. Just as a boy and girl kissing or two girls. It just is. So it’s important as well for non LBGTQ kids to see them represented as well—@julescupcayke
It's still a patronizing and dangerous move. Kids under 13 still have same-sex crushes. When the school system says that book isn't age-appropriate, it's telling those kids that you're too dumb to decide for yourself & that you don't deserve to be validated.—@MegW613
The OCSB age restricting this book is a grossly ill-advised and detrimental move on both functional and political levels. <br><br>They’re doing a grave disservice to those children’s futures by intentionally ostriching their heads into the sand over socio-sexual issue education.—@GeorgeAlKoura