Trustees with the Waterloo Regional District School Board (WRDSB) have voted down a motion to review whether books on sexuality in K-6 libraries are age-appropriate.
The motion floated by trustee Cindy Watson was rooted in concerns raised by parents that books at local libraries did not meet curriculum guidelines.
“Parents and community members are concerned that the provincial curriculum guidelines may not apply in school libraries and would like more information and reassurance that sexual health curriculum guidelines also apply in school libraries,” said Watson. “I’m hoping that trustees can support this motion to help build understanding and provide clarity for parents and community members that have concerns.”
According to Watson, multiple parents had reached out to her over the phone and by email on this issue.
The motion goes on to note that “there is an appearance of an age discrepancy between the Ministry of Education Curriculum guidelines, Human Development and Sexual Health education, and K-6 guidelines library resources that would further support K-6 students.”
The motion called for the WRDSB to staff to “present a detailed written report to the board of trustees by the end of March 2022, concerning the age discrepancy between the Ministry of Education Curriculum guidelines, Human Development and Sexual Health, and the library resources that would further support K-6 students in WRDSB school libraries and strategies that would ensure that we are in compliance with Ministry curriculum guideline expectations.”
Trustees refused to support the motion, with three voting for it and six voting against. In her opposition, trustee Karen Meissner called the motion “quite harmful.”
“(Age appropriateness is) often used to question the identity of two-spirit or LGBTQ+ people. It’s actually quite harmful, because it suggests that folks that identify as two-spirit or LGBTQ+ themselves are not age-appropriate. This is actually a phase used to undermine the humanity of those folks,” claimed Meissner.
Meanwhile, trustee Mike Ramsay said that his colleagues were painting the concerns as “not valid,” however he voted in favour of the motion.
“What I’m hearing from some of my colleagues is that those concerns aren’t valid. Regardless of how we feel, we have to look at that shared public duty to all of our students,” said Ramsay.
In response to criticisms, Watson assured her fellow trustees that the motion was not meant to target any specific student or group.
I want to assure trustees this has nothing to do with any particular group or any particular child. I can say that with all sincerity,” said Watson.