Patrick Craine

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B.C. parents outraged after activist group hands out graphic ‘cartoon porn’ in school

Patrick Craine
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NANAIMO, British Columbia, March 1, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Nanaimo family is outraged after their 13-year-old son brought home a graphic flipbook showing a woman putting a condom on a man and the two engaging in intercourse.

Carl Sanders, whose son is in grade 8 at Wellington Secondary School, called the book “cartoon pornography.” His wife Cathy says it made her “physically nauseous” when her son showed it to her.

“I don’t think any depiction of sexual activity is necessary to pass on to people in school,” the father told CTV.

The flipbook, titled Put on Something Sexy, was given to the Sanders’ son on January 31 as a prize during a class on “sexual health” put on by AIDS Vancouver Island.

The school district has apologized, but say the school has not decided yet whether AIDS Vancouver Island will be allowed back, even though the group is defending the flipbook. 

“The decision is up to each individual school,“ Donna Reimer, spokeswoman for School District 68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith, told LifeSiteNews.com. “We have some clear guidelines. Number one that parents be informed ahead of time when there’s going to be sex education presentations. And number two, that the materials be reviewed by the school ahead of time.”

According to Reimer, in this case there was a failure to observe those guidelines because the materials were not reviewed in advance. “It’s hard to say whose fault that was,” she said.

She said the school decided the materials were not age-appropriate and that they will be speaking with AIDS Vancouver Island.

But representatives for the group, which advocates for public acceptance of homosexuality, have strongly defended the flipbook in the media.

“We know that by distributing material that shows healthy sexuality, by having honest and frank conversations about sex and drugs, that we can actually delay young people’s sexual activity and drug use activity,” Katrina Jensen, AIDS Vancouver Island’s executive director, told CBC. “And if we can’t delay it, we can at least make sure it’s safe.”

The group has done presentations in schools for 15 years and says they have used the graphic flipbook in classrooms many times without issue. The book, which is intended for youth, was produced by the Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (CATIE).

Cathy Sanders says the school needs to tighten up its protocols and that it’s apology came too late for her son.

“[The flipbook] upset him to the point where he didn't feel comfortable. He felt that it was wrong,” she told CBC. "I guess the idea is to teach them to have safe sex, but do we need to teach them how to have sex at 13?"

“Once a child is exposed to something you can never erase that from their memory,” she told CTV.

Despite the parents’ objection, Reimer defended the portrayal of sex in the classroom. “That is part of the curriculum … and we are obliged to teach it,” she told LifeSiteNews. “And I think we believe it is an important thing to be teaching students in an age-appropriate manner.”

“Parents do have the ability to ask for their child to be removed from that section of the instruction if they want to do that,” she added.

The parents won support from the Nanaimo Daily News, however, which lambasted the graphic sex ed approach in an editorial on Thursday.

“Do our children really need visuals and instructions for how to put on a condom?" the paper asked. "Providing visuals for that in a school is education, we're told. Outside of the class, it's called pornography,” the paper wrote, adding that AIDS Vancouver Island’s approach “sounds more like recruiting than anything else.”

“Where are the gatekeepers at the school? Who is protecting the students? Why are the schools not putting up their radar before events like this, knowing what can take place, and the vulnerability of students? Why does it take a mom to bring it to their attention?” they asked.

“Knowing the difficulties and strain on social infrastructure that teenage pregnancies produces, one would think there would be a strong push towards espousing the virtues of not doing it, as opposed to doing it,” they wrote. “Abstinence, and waiting until the appropriate time are still virtues. Aren't they?”

The flipbook distributed by AIDS Vancouver Island is available on CATIE’s website. (Warning: Graphic depictions of nudity and sex.)

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