Canadian Schools Pull Theatre Book with LGBT Characters from Elementary Libraries

Laura Osman · CBC News

The Ottawa Catholic School Board has quietly removed a popular book from its elementary school libraries after parents complained about its LGBT content.

Drama, a 2012 graphic novel by American author and illustrator Raina Telgemeier, is about a student who wants to be part of her middle-school theatre production.

It features a side story about two boys who are attracted to one another, and who share an onstage kiss. The novel was a top pick by the editors at the New York Times and named a Stonewall Book Award "Honor Book" in 2013 for its portrayal of LGBT issues.

The book features an onstage kiss between male characters.

The book features an onstage kiss between male characters.

Children's book distributor Scholastic Canada rates Drama as appropriate for readers 10 to 14 years old. However, it's also among the most challenged books in school libraries in the United States, according to the American Library Association, and has been banned from entire school districts in Texas.

Now, librarians at all Ottawa Catholic School Board elementary schools have been ordered to remove the book, according to emails obtained by CBC News.

In the emails, sent Jan. 7, Robert Long, the board's co-ordinator of learning technology and support, tells librarians the books will be transferred to middle and high schools, where they will "more appropriately target 13+ students."

Long said the decision was made at the school board level by either a "religion co-ordinator" or a superintendent.

The reason for removing the book was "not necessarily for LGBTQ content," Long wrote in the emails. 

"The problem with the book is the actual relationship content," he wrote. "It is not a book we really need younger kids reading without guidance."

The books are now available in the board's middle and high schools "where it is age appropriate," according to a statement from spokesperson Mardi de Kemp. The board didn't agree to an interview and would not confirm the books have indeed been removed from elementary schools or discuss why.

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