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Southern Manitoba parents call for 'sexually explicit' children's books to be removed from libraries

Inside the South Central Regional Library Winkler Branch. (Source: South Central Regional Library Winkler Branch/Facebook) Inside the South Central Regional Library Winkler Branch. (Source: South Central Regional Library Winkler Branch/Facebook)

A group of parents is calling on municipalities to get what they call 'sexually explicit' children's books out of southern Manitoba libraries, or else cut the libraries' funding.

In a presentation to Winkler's City Council Tuesday night, resident David Wall said he's concerned over the content of several children's sex education books on the shelves of South Central Regional Libraries.

"Sex education focuses on the basic anatomy and biology of sex. These books however are instructing our children on how to commit various sexual acts," he said, adding the books contain 'sexually explicit' materials including cartoon drawings of genitalia and people having intercourse.

Wall called the books child pornography and said he believes they go against the Criminal Code of Canada.

"Consider a moment, what position the library board has put themselves in by having and distributing this material," Wall told councillors.

This is the latest move by a group of parents pushing to have several books removed from southern library shelves.

Earlier this year, a complaint over three books (It's Perfectly Normal, What Makes a Baby, and Sex is a Funny Word) had been brought to the South Central Regional Library board.

After a review of the books, the board decided all three would remain on library shelves, though one book, It's Perfectly Normal, would be moved to the young adult nonfiction section.

Now the group of parents is in the process of making presentations to all seven of the municipalities that are members of the South Central Regional Library board.

"My suggestion is, at the very least, to pass a resolution to approach the library board to ascertain a policy wherein these children's books and any children's books of age 0-17 books that contain pornography, teach sexual touching, or could be used for grooming purposes are removed from all south central regional libraries."

The group is calling for the member councils to withhold their annual funding to the library board if the books are not removed from shelves.

Cathy Ching, director of library services for South Central Regional Library, told CTV News the excerpts and pictures from the books are being taken out of context. She said the books are well-researched and are published by notable publishers, and are important for children's education.

"We don't want pornographic materials in our library or any library, and we don't have it," Ching said. "Materials that teach about sexuality and body image, and just everything is not sexually explicit material."

Ching confirmed the library board had legal counsel look over the books, determining that legally the books in question are not pornographic.

"We have done our due diligence, we purchased materials that is totally legal and needed by our public and needed by our parents and children," she said, adding she is concerned over the group's push to remove books from a library.

"They're taking away the right of someone else to choose what they want to read."

Winkler Mayor Henry Siemens told CTV News the discussion with parents Tuesday evening was an 'emotionally charged' conversation.

"These are a group of parents who are deeply passionate and committed to what they view as the right books to have in the library," he said, adding even though the group was passionate, they were all respectful of council.

"I believe that's the best way to have these conversations, and I was extremely happy to see that that's how that went."

Siemens said once the group of parents has had an opportunity to speak with the other member municipalities, Winkler council will discuss the request with the other municipalities and will provide a formal response to the group of parents.

"We take everything seriously, and we do our due diligence," Siemens said, adding council has now tasked city staff to do some research to figure out what options the council has.

He said a formal response likely won't happen until the new year.

Ching said she would love for people who have concerns to come to the library themselves and see the books in question.

"We invite them to come to our libraries and come and talk to our staff nicely with respectfulness. We would love to show people our libraries. We have nothing to hide," she said. Top Stories

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