“Catholic schools in Ontario flip-flopped about a graphic novel depicting same-sex attraction between two boys, allowing the ‘Drama’ graphic novel back on elementary school library shelves.
Created by American author/illustrator Raina Telgemeier, the 2012 book released by Scholastic is about a girl who tries out for her middle-school stage production. A side story in the graphic novel delves into same-sex attraction and features two boys kissing each other onstage, one of whom is dressed in drag.
Emails from officials at the Ottawa Catholic School Board noted that the book was removed from libraries at its elementary schools, arguing that its contents were inappropriate for children ages 6 and under. However, the board still allowed the book for students ages 7 to 12, in middle schools, and in high schools. The publisher had classified the book as appropriate for children ages 10 and up.
A request for comment from the Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa went unanswered.
After an outcry from local politicians, parents, and the author, the school board changed course and decided to allow the book for reading by young children at the publicly funded Catholic schools. In an email to CBC, Ottawa Catholic School Board spokeswoman Mardi de Kemp wrote that the board ‘listened to educators, parents, stakeholders and ratepayers’ in making the decision. She averred that the school system remains ‘committed to having safe, inclusive, and accepting schools.’
Lyra Evans, who has been identified in the press as a ‘transgender woman’ who sits on the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, expressed satisfaction with having ‘Drama’ at Catholic schools. She tweeted earlier Monday, ‘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.'”