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Book ban voted down at Brandon school board meeting

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The Brandon School Division will not be removing books with LGBTQ2S+ content.

This news comes after trustees heard a presentation earlier this month, which requested the division create a committee to ban certain books with LGBTQ2S+ topics from school libraries. Since the presentation, the school division received 289 emails and letters, the majority of which were opposed to the committee.

On Tuesday night, the gymnasium of Vincent Massey High School in Brandon was packed with residents as a debate waged on whether or not to remove books with LGBTQ2S+ content from school libraries.

Jason Foster, a high school student who identifies as a transgender male, was one of 31 delegates at Tuesday night’s meeting. He spoke on his experience with criticism regarding his sexuality, the harshest of which encouraged suicide.

“It’s not great,” he says. “But at this point in my life, where I’ve had all those things said to me, it doesn’t affect me anymore.

The vast majority of speakers were overwhelmingly against banning books, including parents, library administrators, teachers, and other members of the community.

Presenters in favour of the ban were sparse, with only one presenter directly in favour of the ban. Other correspondence with the Brandon School Division was read out at the beginning of the meeting.

“Hoping and praying long and often. Please stand for what is right and ban the books,” trustee chairperson Linda Ross read one example. “I truly believe that there’s a concerning number of books that should not be available for small kids.”

Positive reception from the community was overwhelming to Aly Wowchuk, chairperson of Brandon Pride.

“We have a very small group of volunteers, and we put on Pride Week every year,” Wowchuk says. “And just the absolute amount of people reaching out asking questions, like how they can be a better ally in situations like these. It’s really, really heartwarming just to have the community band together.”

Discussion and reactions to the delegations by trustees took place at the end of the meeting, in which many trustees expressed support for the LGBTQ2S+ community in Brandon.

Some noted before the vote that they would not be supporting of the ban.

Ultimately, the board voted against creating a committee to ban books in school libraries, with a vote of 6-1 with two trustees absent.

- With files from CTV’s Danton Unger.

Correction

This is a corrected story. The initial story had the final vote among trustees as 5-1, when it was actually 6-1.

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