(Vancouver, 1 October 1997)
Several prominent people have come forward in support of teachers, parents and students challenging the Surrey School Board‘s banning of lesbian and gay themed children’s books.
The petitioners yesterday filed further affidavits in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Those lending expertise and support include internationally now Canadian authors Robert Munsch and Dennis Lee. Munsch, whose 28 published children’s book have sold 25,000,000 copies in 11 languages, states that “they [the banned books] are all suitable for use in kindergarten and primary curriculum.” Lee, commenting on the value of the banned books, says “they are bound the reduce the tendency to mockery and cruelty with which many children greet things they are unfamiliar with.”
Meg Hinckling, recipient of the Order of British Columbia for her work in sexual health education, and author of Speaking of Sex: Are You Ready to Answer the Questions Your Kids Will Ask?, arrests to the importance of the books banned by the Surrey School Board in building self-esteem in young children and teaching acceptance of diversity at a young age.
Academy Award-winning director and producer Debra Chasnoff, who released her latest documentary film (co-produced with Helen Cohen), It’s Elementary — Talking About Gay Issues in School in 1996, also backs the petitioners’ case. It’s Elementary has been acclaimed by the president of the American School Counselor Association as “essential viewing for parents and educators concerned about preventing violence and prejudice.”
Librarians, teachers, students and parents have also filed affidavit evidence in support of the petitioners’ application for an order that the books Asha’s Mums, Belinda’s Bouquet, and One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad, Blue Dads be approved as teaching resources in School District #36 (Surrey) and for a declaration that in exercising its authority under the School Act, the Trustees of School District #36 violated the petitioners’ rights to freedom of expression and equality without discrimination, contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The petitioners are supported by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and EGALE (Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere).