LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Representation in literature essential
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I am writing in response to the recent presentation made to the Brandon school board (“Transgender Books in our School Libraries”). As a resident of Brandon and parent to three children in the Brandon School Division, I strongly believe in representation, inclusion and diversity in our schools. I vehemently oppose the banning of books in our school libraries.
As the guidelines of the Canadian Federation of Library Associations’ Intellectual Freedom Committee states: “It is the responsibility of libraries to guarantee and facilitate access to all expressions of knowledge and intellectual activity, including those which some elements of the society may consider to be unconventional, unpopular or unacceptable.”
The school board’s own Values Framework outlined in Policy 1 states: “The Board of Trustees believes that every child is entitled to a quality education, free from discrimination irrespective of race, national or ethnic origin, religion, language, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, physical/social/emotional/intellectual ability and beliefs.”
Brandon’s transgender, nonbinary, two-spirit, gender-fluid and gender-nonconforming students should not be facing the kind of bigotry that was shown at the last school board meeting.
A recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that “transgender adolescents showed five times the risk of suicidal ideation and 7.6 times the risk of suicide attempt” compared to their cisgender, heterosexual peers. The study goes on to say that “these findings highlight the need for inclusive prevention approaches to address suicidality.”
Representation matters. Representation and inclusion in literature is essential, and education on diversity helps eliminate ignorance and bigotry. Our transgender, nonbinary, two-spirit, gender-fluid and gender-nonconforming youth need inclusivity in our schools and our community. There is no place for transphobia in Brandon schools. Banning books that show inclusivity and diversity sends a very dangerous message to our vulnerable youth.