The Chilliwack School Board, 2019.

Book-banning discussed as Chilliwack trustee’s motion on parental consent fails

‘This is Alabama time, and we should stay away from it,’ board chair argues

A Chilliwack school trustee reading out a steamy passage from a young adult novel didn’t help pass her motion that would have required parents to have informed consent on all materials used in the classroom.

Trustee Heather Maahs read from Australian author John Marsden’s 1993 book Tomorrow, When the War Began, about a teenage girl living through an insurgence by an unnamed country.

“’I was clinging to him and pressing against him as though I wanted to let my whole body inside him and I liked the way I could make him groan and grasp and swear [the novel actually says ‘sweat’],’” Maahs read aloud at a meeting Tuesday night.

“‘I liked giving him pleasure, although it was hard to tell what was pleasure and what was pain. I was teasing him, touching him and saying “Does that hurt? Does that? Does that?” and he was panting saying “Oh God … no, yes, no.” It made me feel powerful.’”

The excerpt is from a Grade 9 novel, in which the main character explains that she and her love interest, and most of their friends, are virgins.

The motion, which failed 4-3, would have required teachers to foresee “resources that some may consider controversial” and inform parents about their use. It does not explicitly target sexual content, but Maahs emphasized that point at the meeting.

“I think we can all figure out that I’m talking about sexual content in the curriculum … I am talking about SOGI 123, but I’m also talking about novels and anything that may arrive in a sexual nature,” Maahs said, referring to the sexual orientation and gender identity curriculum in B.C.

READ MORE: Trustee admits to losing her ‘cool’ during Chilliwack dress code discussion

School board chair Dan Coulter noted several reasons the motion should fail, including contravention of the School Act and that it was reminiscent of book banning and book burning.

“People would be objecting to phrases in books in libraries,” Coulter said, adding books on biology could be deemed controversial by some parents. “It would be endless. This is Alabama time, and we should stay away from it.”

Other trustees said parents can already speak to their children’s teachers about content used in a classroom. Maahs, however, said her motion would allow parents the opt their child out of conversations before they happen.

A book-banning case happened closer to home than Alabama. About 20 years ago, the Surrey School Board tried ban three children’s books: Belinda’s Bouquet, Asha’s Mums, and One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dads, Blue Dads. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the ban breached the School Act.

Marsden’s book and its series has earned accolades internationally, including the Children’s Book Council of Australia, the New South Wales Board of Studies, and the American Library Association, among others.

READ MORE: Teachers’ union says SOGI 123 debate by Chilliwack trustee candidates is irrelevant


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘100 Oceanside Men Who Give a Damn’ donates $9,500 to hospice society

OHS provides services free of charge to palliative clients and their families

Parksville man arrested after stabbing incident at makeshift camp near city mall

Oceanside RCMP report 28-year-old man taken into custody without incident

Parksville runner ready to raise funds for charity

Watson to run half-marathon with daughter Lauren

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Filmmaker James Cameron’s Comox Valley winery up for sale

The director behind The Terminator and Titanic puts Beaufort Winery on the market after six years

Large missing python found ssssafe in Victoria after being on the lam for weeks

The snake was located more than six kilometres from where it went missing

B.C. announces multi-year plan to double treatment beds for youth with addiction

This will bring the total number of new beds specific to those 12 to 24 years old to 247 province-wide

B.C. man who nearly died from COVID-19 reflects on one-month battle

Robert Billyard was in an induced coma to ensure his body would not fight the ventilator to breathe

Cowichan’s Dillabaugh checks in from the NHL bubble in Toronto

Flyers’ Duncan-born goalie coach weighs in on hockey restart

Most Read