A father and a school trustee from British Columbia are sounding the alarm on books in schools they say are of concern due to their explicit sexual content.
Pierre Barns, a father from Abbotsford, B.C., first had concerns when his daughter brought home a book from school he found objectionable. After inquiries to her school on what other books were in the library, he asked that six such books be removed.
The school board subsequently removed three of the books from all of the school district’s libraries: “The Quick and Easy Guide to Queer and Trans Identities,” “The Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns,” and “The Gender Book.”
Barns, a francophone raised in northern Quebec, told The Epoch Times he was more alarmed after he expanded his internet search of available books in school libraries across Canada.
“It was very bad, actually,” he said.
“They described sexual intercourse in detail. They have [illustrated] pictures of males and females, males and males, and females and females having sexual intercourse. They have pictures of boys on boys having fellations [oral sex]. They describe anal sex [to children] in elementary school, and they talk about masturbation, ejaculation.”
The father of two, who has been married for 15 years, documents his findings at exposingsogi123.com and his Facebook page. He emails one school board after another to alert them to their library content. He says some thank him and share his perspectives, while others defend the books staunchly with typical arguments.
“They came back to me with always the same story, saying it’s within diversities, it’s in the human rights, which is completely false. The human rights dimension says that you should not be discriminated against [for] gender identities and your gender expression, but it does not mention that schools should teach you how to have sexual intercourse,” Barns said.
“They always use these things, but it has nothing to do with it. And it has nothing to do with sexual health or preventing sexual abuse, as they like to claim. It has nothing to do with diversity and inclusivity.”
Barns provided The Epoch Times with an email exchange from June that he had with Halton District School Board members in Ontario. The email included screenshots of pages of books in their schools that either had illustrated sex or excessive profanity. They were so graphic, it prompted one board member to email the superintendent and CC all recipients.
“I am concerned. This individual has included links to publications and videos which may actually contain illegal content,” the board member wrote.
“I’m not sure how to investigate the content of the email safely. Would you please advise us whether or not this person ought to be reported to police? Is there some action we should take?”
The board member did not respond to inquiries from The Epoch Times before this article’s publication. Despite the member’s recognition of the graphic nature of some of the books, each remains in one or more Halton District schools. They include “It’s Perfectly Normal,” “Sex Is a Funny Word,” “Fun Home,” “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” “A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities,” “Rick,” “The Hate U Give,” and “The Glass Castle.”
Barns says exposing children to explicit books is child abuse and grooms children for future abuse. He has compiled a database of 2,000 Canadian teacher sexual misconduct cases since 1998, even though Alberta, Nova Scotia, and Ontario are the only provinces that disclose such information.
“I think we have a big problem in Canada. There is a systemic problem of abuse, actually. … In schools, it’s sexual abuse. We allow that,” he says.
“It’s a vicious circle; the more I find, the more I have to report. It’s my duty, and if I don’t do this then I am enabling sexual abuse actually. I always think I’m not doing enough. Like I’m going to work until 12 tonight and wake up at 4 a.m. to go to work. … I could expose all the schools if I had time.”
‘Shock and Horror’
Heather Maahs, a school trustee in Chilliwack, B.C., says an email from Barns opened her eyes a year ago.
“It was shock and it was horror, because as far as I’m concerned this is pornography for kids,” Maahs said in an interview.
“All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto” was the first book Barns brought to Maahs’s attention.
“That one describes the situation between two [male] first cousins. The older cousin is actually seducing the younger cousin, and the younger cousin then goes on to describe what the anal sex is like and how it hurts, but then how he actually likes it in the end,” Maahs said.
“I don’t care about context. That passage can stand alone quite nicely, and we all know that it’s entirely inappropriate.”
Despite Maahs’s efforts to have the book removed, she said it was put back in the library with a warning sticker on the cover, something she thinks will only make some kids want to read it even more.
That was not the first time Maahs’ efforts were overruled by her board’s majority. Four years ago, a Chilliwack parent complained about “Tomorrow, When the War Began,” which was used as a novel in English class.
“The book describes an encounter between a girl and a boy, and the girl was the aggressor. She said things in the story like, ‘Oh I was causing him pain,’ ‘I felt powerful,’ and ‘he didn’t like it, but then he said keep going,’” she said.
Maahs proposed a parental consent policy for books in Chilliwack schools but was out-voted on council. Her colleagues defended the novel.
“I took an excerpt from that book and I read it as part of my rationale for writing this policy, and the room went silent. It was like somebody sucked all the air out of the room until they found their stride,” she explains.
“Then the chair said, ‘Oh, what are we, Alabama book burning?’ He actually said that twice. Then they were off to the races and it was like, ‘Oh, don’t be ridiculous,’ and the content was forgotten.”
Scrutinize Books, Board Members
Maahs and Barns say they hope citizens will take school board elections seriously, including those coming up in B.C. on Oct. 15.
“They better look and scrutinize very carefully who they’re electing to be on their school boards, because they actually do have an effect on their kids’ education. And also, they need to get into their schools and they need to scrutinize what books are in the library and what books are being used in the curriculum, and ask questions of the teachers,” Maahs said.
“And parents could get really savvy, looking at these [board] policies and the processes and hold the [boards’] feet to the fire over their processes, because sometimes [members] don’t do what their processes say they’re supposed to do.”