Parents say WRDSB eBook checkout system allows students to access inappropriate material
Several parents are questioning the filtering process of eBooks available to students at the Waterloo Regional District School Board (WRDSB) after they say their children were able to access eBooks that are not age appropriate.
During the Monday night WRDSB meeting, parents claimed kids - some as who are elementary aged students - are able to access eBooks that are not age appropriate from the WRDSB online library.
"Having appropriate safeguards in place does not mean denying a student a resource,” parent Christina Fernandes said. “Not having particular books available at our schools or on display, is not denying a student.”
She added: "One of the most important considerations in exposing children to graphic content is age appropriateness. What steps does the WRDSB have in place to ensure the age appropriateness of sexualized content?"
Around half a dozen delegates spoke at the meeting to voice their concerns with how these reading materials may negatively impact their children.
"No matter how well intentioned, preventing children from knowing about the everyday experiences of others doesn't ultimately protect them,” delegate Adrienne Barrett Hofman said.
Hofman said the board isn't perfect, because perfection doesn't exist, but "they're doing their best to include all kids, because they want the best for our kids."
At issue was trustee Cindy Watson's motion asking board staff to explain how ebooks are filtered for age appropriateness, and how parents are offered the opportunity to opt kids out of sexual health teachings.
"Queer people exist, trans people exist, and just because some people don't like it, doesn't make it not true," parent Jacki Yovanoff said. "Just because some may not like it or be uncomfortable with it, doesn't mean they get to erase it from our schools."
The school board did not vote on the motion asking staff to explain why these students were able to access the material.
The report would have included a process to provided information and opt out notice before surveys and sexual health teaching in its various forms, to help ensure parents are informed and included in their child’s sexual health education.
Watson told CTV News the motion will likely be up for discussion at one of the next board meetings.
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