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.

Just Posted

LETTER: Langley letter writers asks when can society stop saying sorry

A l ocal man questions why City council feels the need to follow higher levels of government

Langley show jumpers help secure top five finish in Morocco

Canadian team includes one rider and the team’s chef d’equipe, who both hail from Langley

Langley volleyball player helps secure bronze in Puerto Rico

Women medal at NORCECA, while men’s team is playing the worlds in Hiroshima, Japan

LETTER: Fort Langley festival reminds us to be thankful

Heartfelt thanks go out to event organizers

VIDEO: Thanksgiving Day crash in Langley sent a few to hospital

UPDATE: No one believed seriously injured in head-on accident at 232nd Street and Fraser: Mounties

VIDEO: Trudeau plays defence in Maritimes today while Scheer fights for seats in Quebec

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, whose party has been on the rise in recent polls, is campaigning in Toronto

‘Rather mild’ winter expected in B.C. this year

Northwestern B.C. will be the worst hit

Court action in Trail acid spills may take years

B.C. court case involves a number of defendants and a number of plaintiffs

RCMP shoot dog in Surrey after it charges officer

Member of the public not seriously injured after dog bite

In the news: Sprinting to the election finish line and anger amid Manitoba storms

First Nations residents forced to evacuate their Manitoba homes after a recent snowstorm

VIDEO: Townhouse fourth Maple Ridge blaze in less than a day

UPDATE: Fire victims have much to be thankful for, despite loss of pets on Thanksgiving Day

BC Ferries sees steady traffic of post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Ferries filling up fast, sailing waits at some terminals

‘Save the kids!’ Dorian survivor tells the harrowing story of his Canadian wife’s death

Family held a funeral and placed Alishia Liolli’s remains in a niche at a cemetery in Windsor, Ont.

Okanagan woman, 91, votes at advance polls despite broken hip, shoulder and wrist

Angela Maynard has voted in almost every election during her lifetime

Most Read