Manitoba Tories oppose ban on sexual and gender identity literature in school libraries

A delegation member says the material is akin to 'child pornography.'

Manitoba Tories oppose ban on sexual and gender identity literature in school libraries
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The Manitoba Library Association (MLA) is concerned about “intellectual freedom” following several requests to remove books on sexual and gender identity from school bookshelves.

“A delegation has falsely equated 2SLGBTQIA+ materials selected for school libraries as ‘pedophilia’ and ‘grooming,’” according to the nonprofit MLA.

“In addition to condemning these attempts at censorship, MLA condemns the discriminatory characterization behind these calls for censorship,” it continues. “We consider this an affront to our professional values of intellectual freedom and equity, diversity, and inclusion alike.”

On March 14, a delegation asked Winkler city council to stop funding the South Central Regional Library (SCRL) until they remove books on sexuality and LGBTQ issues from libraries that are easily accessible to minors. One of the delegation members said the material is akin to “child pornography.” 

MLA accused the delegation of not supporting “the core tenet of intellectual freedom to provide free and open access to information for everyone.”

Cathy Ching, SCRL director of library services, said library staff have since been “harassed” over the materials. “We have had people phone and tell long-time staff how disgusting they are and that they are pornographers and promoting child grooming,” she told the Winnipeg Sun.

The Brandon School Division (BSD) also faced a similar request during a school trustee meeting on May 8. The Winnipeg Free Press reported that two trustees supported a possible ban.

On Monday, Premier Heather Stefanson said her government supports the LGBTQ community and trusts that school divisions will address the matter best.

“We want to ensure that nobody is being discriminated against when it comes to information out there,” she told the house. “Regarding this situation, I know that school divisions have been involved. 

“We know we’ve left certain things and decisions up to those school divisions,” added Stefanson. BSD trustees will discuss the issue at their next meeting on May 24 and have encouraged people on all sides to speak at the meeting.

Brandon University issued a brief statement on the matter, opposing censorship of books on LGBTQ issues and sexual and gender identity. They wrote an emphatic “Don’t.” 

“Manitobans, including the Manitoba School Board Association, have advocated for a democratic voice in the provision of education in public schools. We respect the role school divisions play in reflecting local needs,” said Education Minister Wayne Ewasko.

In response, MLA released an online “toolkit” on May 11 for public libraries in the province to navigate “intellectual freedom and censorship challenges.” The nonprofit will also host a virtual Manitoba Libraries Conference on May 18 and 19 on intellectual freedom.

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  • By Tamara Ugolini


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