In a couple days I will be heading to Edmonton Comic Expo with my hubby! I’ll be cosplaying as Krul Tepes, and also presenting my panel There’s a Graphic Novel for Everyone (Yes, Even You!)
I’ve been packing everything up slowly but surely, and thought it would be fun to share some of my must-haves that I always bring to cons.
So, besides the obvious things to pack if you are traveling for a con (toiletries, your phone, your cosplay) here are some things that I always pack:
- Portable Steamer
I am such a big fan of steamers- they are so much easier and quicker for getting out wrinkles in everyday clothes or costumes than using an iron (which I have a tendency to accidentally burn my clothes with!!!)
The first con I ever went to, I hauled my gigantic stand-up steamer into the hotel room, and it was a pain in the butt, but I’ve since discovered portable steamers, and my life has never been the same. I bring this thing everywhere I travel!
2. Garment Bag
I bought this garment bag for one of my tap dance costumes, and it’s awesome for safely transporting my cosplay- I especially love the pockets in the front for storing little accessories and undergarments.
3. SFX bag
If you are doing a cosplay that involves any sort of blood, spirit gum, latex, etc. it’s good to have a separate bag for those. I always wrap up liquids because somehow they always manage to leak.
4. OH NOES pouch
My Mom bought this little pouch for me for my wedding, and it’s amazing. It has little mini versions of a bunch of items you might need in a pinch: breath drops, safety pins, deodorant, lip chap, floss, even itty-bitty containers of hairspray and clear nail polish!
A lot of cons have Cosplay Rescue/Repair booths now which may provide some similar items if you need a quick and simple fix or freshen up with your cosplay.
5. Bits and Pieces
Just to be on the safe side, I bring some extra scraps of material that match the ones I used for my cosplay- I haven’t had to use any yet, but I imagine I will be so glad I packed them if someday I get a sleeve caught on something, or bend over and hear a terrifying ripping sound!!!
6. Makeup Bag
I usually create a makeup bag specifically for the character I am portraying- it will include my basic everyday items (bb cream, powder, etc) as well as some more unique cosplay makeup like flesh colored lipstick, red eyeliner, and any other uncommon types needed for the look.
7. Hair and Wig Bag
Wigs are frustrating things, especially long ones. I’ve learned to wrap my wigs up gently, folding the hair strands into the bag. I also include detangler, a metal brush (metal won’t make your wig staticy) and gels and creams for styling, as well as wig caps, bobby pins, and other hair management stuff.
8. Tripod and Camera Accessories
Whether you are using your phone or a dedicated camera, it’s a good idea to bring a tripod, and maybe even a selfie stick- you might want to get pictures with groups who are cosplaying the same series as you, or you might find a really awesome photo location that makes you want to prop your camera up for the perfect shot.
9. Portable Charger
Portable chargers can be really useful if you will be relying on your phone for communication, transportation, information, or other ations. When I am traveling I often rely on google maps a lot to help me navigate, so I make sure to have a backup battery with me.
10. Catch-all bag
I’ve learned that, no matter how comprehensively I pack my travel bags, I like to have a giant bag to put all the smaller bags in- this is also useful if you are really busy and have to scramble to pack everything before checking out of your hotel at the end of your trip- just chuck everything into the bag and deal with it later! Winners stores as well as Ikea sell giant bags at the checkout counters that are pretty durable.
11. Shopping Bag
I always pack an extra bag to put any purchases in while i’m at the con- sometimes if you’re lucky you might get a nice bag when you check in to the con, but often bags are hard to come by and you might end up with lots of little bags from various vendors- it’s much easier to have a larger, sturdy bag to carry your goodies around in.
A lot of cons have started offering free water from coolers, or maybe they have fountains, but some only have bottled water for sale, which is usually overpriced.
13. Ca$h Money $$$$$
While some vendors will likely have debit on demand, many will rely on cash at most cons. Right now I only have a partially ripped $20 and a few coins, but I’ll likely stop at my bank before leaving so I have cash on hand when I arrive and don’t get dinged with service fees at an ATM.
14. Business(?) Cards
Ok so these aren’t really business cards, but just cards with my social media handles on them. I usually run into a few like-minded people and it’s handy to have a card for sharing info to stay in touch!
Sometimes at cons you get stuck waiting in a line for something for quite a while, or you are so active running around that you forget to take a break and eat something. In such cases, it’s very helpful to have a granola bar or some kind of snack to hold you over until you can get some proper food into your belly!
That’s all I can think of at the moment- did I miss anything? Happy con time!
Banned Books week is next month, and right now I am working with my department on a presentation about censorship in Canada to share with our coworkers.
I made a collage of some of the titles that we currently have in our library which have been challenged in Canada in the past:
The diversity in even this small representation shows that challenges are submitted on titles from a wide range of subjects, authors, formats, and intended age ranges. Maybe you see some of your favorites up there? These are only a small portion of books that have been challenged in Canada in recent years.
I’m sure there are tons more challenges that aren’t ever submitted for record-keeping. It’s important that we keep records like this of materials that are challenged, because it serves as a real-life reminder and example of how everyone’s standards are different. If we start censoring information, each act of censorship may be perceived as a precedent, and since one person’s treasure is another person’s trash… I know it’s overused, but the term “slippery slope” definitely comes to mind.
Access is vital. Even titles that contain extremely problematic information and views can serve as reminders of past atrocities, case studies for learning, and material for developing informed criticism. How can you knowledgeably criticize or condemn something if you don’t have access to the source material?
Freedom to Read week is organized by the Freedom of Expression Committee of the Book and Periodical Council, and is celebrated annually in February.
Here are the details of some recent challenges as recorded by the Freedom to Read website.
The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
2016-In January, a patron of a public library in Ontario challenged this novel for young adults.
Objections: “The book is age inappropriate… because it contains a bi-sexual sex scene not alluded to on the cover.” The complainant requested that all books with homosexual content be located “in a special area reserved for adults 18+” and put on a shelf marked with a rainbow. The complainant wanted the books labelled “so that children, as well as adults, do not happen upon [them] unwillingly.”
Result: The library decided that labeling LGBTQ content would be an example of expurging library resources and, therefore, would violate the Library Bill of Rights… The Scorpion Rules remained unlabelled in its usual location.
Battling Boy by Paul Pope
2016- In May, a parent in a public library in Ontario challenged this graphic novel for children.
Objection: The parent disliked depictions of violence and the book’s “poor attitude toward women’.
Result: In June, the library resolved the challenge. The library moved this book from the children’s section to the teens’ graphic-novel section.
The Graveyard Book (Graphic Novel, Volumes 1 & 2) by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell
2015/16- In December 2015, a parent challenged this children’s picture book in a public library in Ontario.
Objection: the mother didn’t specify what action she wanted, but she used the complaint form to complain about the book’s illustrations. her 10-year old son was crying because of the illustrations.
Result: After evaluating The Graveyard Book by checking other libraries’ collections and book reviews, the library retained the books in its collection.
2015- A patron in a public library in British Columbia challenged the collection of electronic magazines (from the Zinio distribution service) and paper magazines. The challenge affected a minimum of 17 titles: Cosmopolitan, Details, Esquire, Glamour, GQ, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Redbook, Rolling Stone, SELF, Seventeen, Shape, Sports Illustrated, Teen Vogue, US Weekly, and Women’s Health.
Objections: Sexism, insensitivity, inaccuracy, depiction of bodies that are “negatively objectified”. The patron demanded that all subscriptions be cancelled.
Result: The library kept the magazines and the subscriptions. They were popular with other readers.
Young Adult LGBTQ Publications
2016- In July, a female parent in the St. Albert Library in Alberta challenged all young-adult LGBTQ publications in a teen summer reading program
The library displayed pamphlets that listed the young-adult LGBTQ book titles in the summer reading program.
Objection: The parent was offended by the inclusion of queer lit as one of the book category choices in a turn of the library’s Teen Summer Reading Game.
“There is a difference between showing respect for all peoples and using the summer reading program as a place to further LGBTQ propaganda,” the woman wrote. “My son recognizes that there are people who choose to live this lifestyle; however, it is not a healthy lifestyle to promote to our youth, and it is contrary to God’s plan for human sexuality, love and marriage.”
Result: The Teen Librarian inferred that the patron wanted the queer lit category removed from the Teen Summer Reading Game book category choices and that she may have wanted the queer lit booklist removed from the brochure display in the teen area of the library.
After reading the parent’s comments, the Teen Librarian wrote a letter which was given directly to the patron when she brought her child back to play the reading game. The Teen Librarian informed her supervisors of the challenge and consulted with them on the content of the letter before it was delivered. The queer lit category remained a choice for one turn of the 2016 Teen Summer Reading Game, and the queer lit booklist remained on display with the other booklists in the teen area of the library.
*Note from Shauna: How awesome, informative, and professional is this letter!? Amazing.
Here is the body of the letter:
“Thank you for expressing your concerns about the inclusion of the Queer Lit category in the St. Albert Public Library’s Teen Summer Reading Game. As stated in the Guidelines for the 2016 Teen Summer Reading Game on the player dossier:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
2014- In Camloops, B.C., Dean Audet demanded the removal of this coming-of-age novel from his son’s high school and other schools in the Kamloops/Thompson school district.
Objection: Audet described the novel as “pornographic, offensive and vulgar”.
Result: Audet’s son was given a different book to study. A committee of teachers, a parent and librarians reviewed the novel and approved it for continued use. Audet considered taking legal action to remove the novel from schools.
Donovan’s Big Day by Leslea Newman
2014- In August, a patron of a public library in Alberta objected to this children’s picture book.
Objection: The patron disliked the theme of same-sex marriage.
Result: On the same day, the library resolved the dispute and kept the book in the collection.
Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett
2014- in May a parent complained about this children’s picture book in a library in Quebec.
Objections: The parent disliked the depictions of violence and didn’t think the book was funny. Her 10-year-old child was “traumatised” by the bunny’s “exceedingly violent” actions, she said. Many parents would share her opinion, she added, and she asked the library to remove the book from its collection.
Result: Librarians evaluated the book. They agreed that it was a work of humour and satire. They thought Battle Bunny could appeal to reluctant readers. The librarians also noted that professional book reviews were positive and that four previous borrowers of the book had made no complaints. Battle Bunny remained in the library’s collection.
Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety by Daniel Smith
2014- In November, a patron of a public library in Alberta said this audiobook needed a warning label on the cover.
Objection: This book has dark, adult content.
Result: The library kept the book in the collection.
Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss
Objection: Violence. In this children’s book, children hop on their father. The complainant argued that children are being “encouraged to use wanton violence against their fathers.”
Result: The library kept the book in its collection. In an e-mailed message to the complaining parent, the library explained that its collection aims to reflect the reading needs of diverse individuals and communities (cultural, ethnic, or religious). The library relied on parents to involve themselves in their children’s use of the library and their children’s reading choices.
The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore
2013- In Strathmore, Alta, a parent complained about the inclusion of this graphic novel in the library at Crowther Memorial Junior High School.
Objection: The parent objected to “extreme violence and swearing” in the text.
Result: A committee reviewed The Walking Dead and deemed it inappropriate for use in a junior high school. The book was withdrawn from the collection.
We just got back from Animethon, a 3 day anime convention in Edmonton. This is Animethon’s 25th anniversary, and it’s expanded so much over time that they had to move it to a new location this year: the Shaw Convention Centre.
I left work early on Friday afternoon (THANKS TO MY LOVELY MANAGER!!!) and hubby and I did the 5 hour drive to Edmonton. He was super tired when we checked into our hotel, so I did the 6 minute walk of awkward to the con solo in my InuYasha dress.
What Have I Gotten Myself Into
When I arrived at the centre, I registered and immediately got in line for the Hatsune Miku vocaloid concert. I was an hour early and the lineup was already out the theater hall, into the hallway, and down the stairs. After about half an hour of standing alone on the stairs and sweating in my voluminous yukata-style Robe of Rat, I started feeling a little gross and tired. I was very happy when we started moving into the concert hall.
As soon as I entered the cavernous room I scurried up to the standing area (which wasn’t as full as I was expecting- most people chose seats) and I got out my light sticks. Seeing adorable Miku, whose rhythm games I adore, dancing, singing, and playing guitar in front of me accompanied by some really talented musicians was SUPER COOL. @metadatastudios put on a great show.
After the concert I chatted with a few cosplayers and attendees, and met up with a friend to attend the idolish7 panel where the presenters showed us some clips and shared some info about the characters – now I really want to get into idolish7, it looks hillarious and cute!
After the panel I headed back to the hotel because I was exhausted.
Disqualified from the Cosplay Contest ^-^’
On Saturday morning, Dustin and I headed out to the con together and explored the vendors and artists alley. I couldn’t stop squeeing at all of the adorable plushies everywhere, there are just so many ridiculously cute stuffies from Japan!
After spending All The Money, we checked out the gaming hall, and I tried out the visual novel Love Hues ( @love_hues_game )- the full version isn’t ready yet (I played the demo) but it has a very cute style, college setting, diverse characters, and is LGBTQIA+ friendly! On their twitter it says the full release is expected later this year. They gave me a free poster and pin just for playing and filling out a short survey about my game experience.
I spent more time exploring and chatting with people, getting my Tsukimi (Princess Jellyfish) cosplay ready for the cosplay contest which would start at 2, but in a very un-Shaunalike move, I missed the cosplay rehearsal! I can’t believe I didn’t check my emails more thoroughly, but I was disqualified T-T oh well, no biggie. I still had the Take The Stage prelims later that day to look forward to…
Tap Dancing On Carpet Sounds Like Nothing
Take the Stage is like a talent show, and I had hastily prepared a little tap dance to the opening song of Princess Jellyfish (Koko Dake no Hanashi by Chatmonchy). It included some really basic tap techniques and of course my giant Clara plushie was part of it- I planned to lift her gracefully into the air and twirl her around. It all sounded really lovely in my head.
Anyway, even though the finals were to take place on the main stage, the prelims ended up taking place in a teeny panel room with a carpeted floor. The old thought experiment came to mind: If a Shauna tapdances on the carpet and no-one hears it, does it make a sound? After watching some of the others perform (singing mainly) it was my turn.
I’m not the most impressive tap dancer in the best of circumstances (I’ve only been dancing for 2 years), and Dustin came and took a video of my performance but I haven’t seen it yet… not sure if I want to to be honest! XD
The carpet threw me off a bit, as well as nerves, and I ended up forgetting my choreography halfway through, improvising some random moves. Heck, I had fun though, and I don’t regret it. If I go next year I think I’d like to try singing!
I was kind of low-key hoping I wouldn’t make it to the finals (which take place on Sunday) because we wanted to head out early and do some shopping and eating before driving back home, and I was in luck(?) because I didn’t manage to make it to the finals, haha.
Honey, Do You Love Me? WHAT HAPPENS AT ANIMETHON STAYS AT ANIMETHON (Except for blog posts, apparently)
Dustin peaced out to the hotel and I headed to my next attraction- I had bought a ticket to the Butler Cafe. I joined a lineup of people waiting and was soon ushered into the Riverview Cafe room. I was alone- my friend wanted to come but the tickets were sold out unfortunately- and I was escorted to a table of strangers. Once everyone was seated it was apparent that we had one extra seat beside me left, so I gave Clara her own seat!
Each table had their own butler assigned with a bell to ring for service. Our butler had a fancy name I can’t remember and horns on his(?) head. He served us tea and choice of dessert (tiramisu or vanilla creme brulee). I opted for the creme brulee, which was very tasty but didn’t have a seared top to crack T-T it was more like a delicious sugary pudding or custard.
For a moment I was wondering if I had spent $16 for a scalding cup of tea and a dollop of pudding, but then the head butler went up onto a stage to introduce himself and the other butlers, and I realized that there was going to be some theatrics involved. Everyone at each table was given a slip of paper with a dare on it. They could issue these dares to the butlers as they pleased.
A wild hour ensued with butlers embarassing eachother, professing their love to eachother, performing kabe-don, singing on the stage, and other shenanigans.
While my butler was at our table fulfilling someone’s dare to draw her a picture, I asked if I could use my dare ticket: Your Butler must play “Honey, If You Love Me” with another Butler of your choosing.
“Honey, If You Love Me” is a game where one person gets in the face of the other and tries any trick they can to get them to smile while saying “Honey, if you love me, won’t you please, please smile?”. In my drama classes in high school, this usually involved silly voices and flirtatious gestures.
I chose Haru (the only name I remembered from the introductions). Our butler called him over and showed him my ticket, saying “She chose you”. Haru either misunderstood or chose to ignore the part where he was supposed to play the game with my table’s butler, and instead he came to face me.
“Oh, so you want to play with me?”
I stammered “wha- um, with me? Isn’t it- with the But- My Butler- I was not prepared for this…” I could hear the members of my table giggling behind me.
My butler decided it was more fun to watch Haru play with me instead, and allowed him to proceed. He got down on one knee in front of me where I was sitting in my chair, took my hand, and said “Honey, if you love me, won’t you please smile?” I summoned up the skills I had practiced in drama class more than 10 years ago and maintained a flat, resting bitch face, but then he leaned in and pressed his cheek against mine for just a second, and I looked away, blushing and smiling.
Yeah, he won. I was never good at that game…
When I went back to the hotel later that night I told my husband what happened and he teased me for “cheating on him with a butler” 😉
I Didn’t Make it To The Finals So I Guess I’ll Go To The Concerts
I got the email saying who got into the Take The Stage Finals, and I didn’t make it, which meant we’d be able to sleep in a bit and wouldn’t have to rush around the next day. As such, I decided to make the most of it and check out the concerts of the night. I headed once more to the concert hall still in full cosplay with my giant Clara plushie clutched in front of me.
Kanako Ito was first- she is a singer known for her work on visual novels, including Steins Gate, which I am a fan of! She was so cool on stage with her flowing dress, sunhat, and powerful voice.
Soon after, ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D came out and performed a full concert for us. They are so cool! I was especially taken with the bassist Ryota who was closest to where I was standing- headbanging and swinging his hair around wildly, aiming his bass at us like it was a machinegun. They really got the audience going, clapping, jumping- I got a good workout, and since I had Clara waved her tentacles in time with the music and raised her into the air while cheering after each song.
When the concerts were over I rushed back into the hall to get autographs. I bought a ROOKiEZ towel to be signed, and I used my basic Japanese to tell the band that the concert was really fun and that they spoke great English (because the lead singer had been apologizing for his lack of English, but he spoke very well!). They were very kind and thankful.
Kanako Ito signed my pass for me, and she was so sweet. I told her that I really enjoyed her singing, and she complimented my Japanese, then I complimented her English and she said 本当に!? HONTOU NI!? ありがと arigato! (REALLY!? Thank you!)
I staggered back to the hotel a sweaty mess, wig askew. I hastily changed into my nightgown (throwing my cosplay every which way), washed my face, brushed my teeth, and fell into bed sooooo ready to sleep.
It Ain’t A Trip To Edmonton Until I Get My Crepe
We checked out of our hotel and headed to West Edmonton Mall to do some quick shopping. Because we had spent most of the weekend eating complimentary hotel cheese and granola bars, I had one mission first and foremost: Get a crepe from Crepeworks. This has been my tradition at West Ed since I was a teen. I usually opt for the strawberry or blueberry options, but this time I chose a simple Custard Delight. Soooo gooood.
Satisfied after the custardy goodness, I did some speed walking, skirting and dodging the annoyingly slow and spread-out families and couples who were browsing at a snails pace and simultaneously blocking the walking path- in these situations I can’t help but quietly call to mind Ludacris’ “MOVE B*TCH, GET OUT THE WAYYYY, GET OUT THE WAY B*TCH GET OUT THE WAYyyyy”! I’d never say something like that out loud, but we don’t go to Edmonton that often, so when I have some shopping to do it’s SERIOUS BUSINESS, OK!?
I mainly did some shopping at Oomomo, the new Japanese store where most items are $3. They have these really great acrylics that I love for raising my figurines in their case, and for displaying items at craft shows.
After the mall we stopped at another of our usual spots- New Indian Village (formerly New Asian Village)- they have an amazing buffet spread with curries, naan, spring rolls, salads, chicken, all kinds of stuff. I also love their desserts, like gulab jamun, kheer, and jalebi.
Lastly, we visited the new Miniso for the first time. It’s super cool! Dustin loved the fun tech accessories they have, while I lost my mind over the super cute plushies and beverage containers.
We drove back home singing to rock ballads most of the way. It was a fun little weekend trip!
Cosplay is a total mystery to some people- why do we dress up as these characters, painstakingly crafting elaborate costumes, weapons and accessories? It’s expensive, it’s a lot of work, and some people look down upon it as being childish or cringey.
What’s with cosplay?
A little on my cosplay history…
My first time cosplaying was at Edmonton Expo in 2015. It was my first con ever, and I went as InuYasha. While my costume was designed by the amazing SkyCreation on Etsy, everything else was of my own making- the Tetsusaiga sword was my first weapon build, and it got tons of stares and photos- it was almost too long to fit in our truck!
A lot of my blood and sweat went into that Tetsusaiga… cutting glued industrial foam with an xacto knife is a dangerous business o.o
InuYasha’s long haired wig was a pain in the butt, but luckily the ears I made worked well when sewn into it. I tried creating my own Beads of Subjugation with clay but they ended up being ridiculously heavy, so strung together some store-bought beads instead. I learned the trick of making realistic fangs out of acrylic nails and I’ve never looked back!
After cosplaying as InuYasha I was hooked, and I have since cosplayed Rin Matsuoka, Laito Sakamaki, Tsukimi Kurashita, and soon Krul Tepes (in progress)!
What inspires you to cosplay?
Usually I choose a cosplay project because I absolutely love the character- whether that’s a character that I am attracted to (my initial cross-plays of InuYasha, Rin, Laito) or a character that I admire or feel an affinity towards, like Tsukimi from Princess Jellyfish.
I have also started looking more at the aesthetics and style of a character- it’s especially fun to portray a character that has a unique and eye-grabbing style. For example, I cosplayed as Laito because he is my favorite character from Diabolik Lovers, but I almost chose to cosplay Kanato because he has awesome purple hair, his plushie Teddy, dark facial features that would be fun to replicate with makeup, and a really cool outfit.
On the flipside of this, after having lots of struggles with long wigs, I might reconsider any future cosplay choices if they have crazy long hair!
I also consider the feasability of creating the costume- i’m still a beginner at sewing and crafting, and although in the beginning I purchased some of my pieces from online sellers, my goal is to create all of my costumes and accessories myself going forward.
What got you interested in cosplay?
Cosplay was on my radar ever since I was a young kid, I think. I’m sure I didn’t know “cosplay” was a word back then, but I used to dream about dressing up as the blue Power Ranger or Sailor Mercury. I used to pretend to be these characters when I was playing with my friends, but there was always this yearning to wear the costumes and take on the role of someone else.
Halloween was thrilling for me, and I’ve loved getting into costume for school plays and things like that- cosplay was a natural progression, I guess.
What does cosplay mean to you and what does it bring to your life?
Cosplay does lots of things for me. It gives me a new way to be creative and learn new skills- I’ve designed my own accessories and weapons, learned how to use a sewing machine, dabbled with costume and sfx makeup, and improvised materials and costume fixes.
It also gives me an immediate sense of community. As soon as I stepped into the expo hall as InuYasha, strangers began approaching and complimenting my handicraft, expressing their love of the series, and so on. I call conventions “being with my people” because it’s so fun to feel completely free to dork out and celebrate that dorkiness with others.
I love seeing diverse people of all different backgrounds and abilities, from all walks of life, young and old, coming together in celebration and shenanigans because of their shared geekiness. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of!
Who do you cosplay for?
I cosplay for myself, because I truly enjoy it, and also for the geeky community that I meet at things like conventions. Just as I feel excitement approaching someone who is playing one of my favorite characters, I love it when I see and hear excitement from others about my cosplay. When people ask to get a picture with me, it makes my day. There is something so special and magical about being tapped on the back by Miroku when I am browsing anime dvds at a giant nerdy tradeshow, and getting a picture together!
Is cosplaying freeing for you, either to be more yourself or explore different parts of yourself?
Being around like-minded people certainly does make me feel freer to be my squeeful fangirl self without restraint. Since starting my cosplay journey I feel more confident being bold and sharing my individuality even when i’m not surrounded by other geeks. It’s empowering!
Cosplay also allows me to bring a bit of the theatrical into my life. On the one hand, I get a chance to play with my own look and take on aspects of characters I find similar to myself. On the other hand, cosplaying a character like Laito, who has a personality much stronger than mine, is a lot of fun.
Participating in cosplay competitions is very rewarding even when you don’t win anything, and I am planning to continue signing up for them in the future! It’s not often I get to be on stage with hundreds of people watching me. It’s a crazy experience.
^Awkward Tsukimi shuffle off the staaaggeeee! (Picture rights belong to Edmonton Expo)
As a follow up to my previous post about the unfortunate recent repeal of the new sexual education curriculum in Ontario, I’ve put together a list of some suggested titles that teachers, librarians, parents and guardians might want to consider having on hand to help fill the gaps in the old 1998 curriculum (such as consent, personal and online safety, properly naming body parts, respecting differences, sexual orientation, gender identity, and healthy relationships, to name a few).
*Note: I have not read all of these cover to cover- these are resources I’ve found in my library and online. These titles will surely all have different strengths and weaknesses in terms of the diversity, content, detail, and perspectives they provide.
For younger readers:
Those are MY Private Parts by Diane Hansen and Charlotte Hansen
Who Has What? by Robie H. Harris and Nadine Bernard Wescott
Amazing You! Getting smart about your private parts by Dr. Gail Saltz and Lynne Cravath
Changing You! by Dr. Gail Saltz and Lynne Avril Cravath
Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth
What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth
My body belongs to me by Jill Starishevsky and Angela Padron
Growing Up Inside and Out by Kira Vermond and Carl Chin
For Older Readers
S.E.X.- The All-You-Need-to-Know Sexuality Guide to Get You Through Your Teens and Twenties by Heather Corrina
Sex: an Uncensored Introduction by Nikol Hasler
Does This Happen to Everyone? A Budding Adult’s Guide to Puberty by Jan von Holleben and Antje Helms
Doing it Right: Making Smart, Safe, and Satisfying Choices about Sex by Bronwen Pardes
Girl: Love, Sex, Romance, and Being You by Karen Rayne, PhD
Body Drama by Nancy Amanda Redd
The Little Black Book for Girlz: a Book on Healthy Sexuality by St. Stephen’s Community House
The Little Black Book for Guys: Guys Talk About Sex by St. Stephen’s Community House
What Does Consent Really Mean? by Pete Wallis, Joseph Wilkins, and Thalia Wallis
In 2015, the year I graduated with my Bachelor of Education, a new sex-ed curriculum was introduced. It is a heavily updated version, the result of a lengthy consultation process involving child development experts, educators, police, and thousands of parents. It provides health information for students that is scientific and unbiased. It is inclusive and consent based.
Some infuriating news is emerging from Ontario right now as Education Minister Lisa Thompson announced that the new Ford government has made good on campaign promises to set sex-ed back 20 years to a curriculum that is so far removed from the realities of 2018 as to be an absolute embarrassment.
HIT ME BABY ONE MORE TIME
Fellow Canadians, remember 1998? The year of our insane ice storm that encased cars in ice, devastated power lines, ripped trees from their roots, and formed icicles as tall as your house?
Yeah, you know, 1998, when
- Windows 98 was released by Microsoft
- Titanic and A Bug’s Life hit the theatres
- Pokemon Red and Blue were released in North America
- Furby was the most anticipated Christmas gift
Yes, that’s when the former health curriculum was made- a time before wifi and camera phones. It was a time when cyber-bullying and sexting weren’t even on our radar, and neither were visible, meaningful discussions about consent.
I’ve seen protesters, opponents of the 2015 sex ed curriculum, holding posters saying “Say NO to irresponsible sex ed”. You know what was irresponsible? Using the 1998 curriculum for so long when it was so far behind the times.
I get it, talking about sex makes some people uncomfortable. Guess what folks, that’s WHY we need comprehensive and factual sex ed in our schools. Real sex-ed saves lives.
If you think it’s solely the responsibility of parents to discuss sex, do you trust that all OTHER parents are teaching THEIR kids about respect, consent, sexting, cyber-bullying, and sexual violence? If you read the news regularly, you know this isn’t the case, and kids suffer for it. Sometimes they die because of it.
Kids are going to learn about sex before they are adults, and not just from their schools or parents. Most grade 8 students have seen their fair share of hardcore pornography. This is reality. Is this how we want our kids to learn about sex?
We need to acknowledge the importance of all kids receiving a proper health and sex education that will prepare them for the world.
TOO MUCH TOO SOON?
There are tons of myths floating around about the new curriculum that make it sound like some pretty “explicit” stuff will be taught to young elementary school kids, but it’s simply not true. For example, consent is examined at a young age as a concept (as in “you can say no if someone asks you do to something that makes you uncomfortable”) but it is not framed in the context of sex for that age group.
For that matter, don’t believe the myth that engaging critically and matter-of-factly about sex is going to make your kids want to start trying things with themselves or others (the opposite is true).
Kids are going to learn bits and pieces from all over the place- a solid sex ed curriculum in public schools ensures that they get accurate FACTS. Education is the best form of protection there is.
SO, WHAT IS IN THE CURRICULUM?
The 2015 curriculum is equipped for fostering safety and empowerment in students by introducing the following concepts at developmentally appropriate times from K-12:
- Learning about the proper names of body parts, which child-abuse educators urged would empower kids to speak up about violence and abuse
- Personal and online safety, including cyber-bulling and sexting
- Respecting differences, including sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression (recognizing that respecting these differences is enshrined in Canadian law )
- Healthy relationships, respect, identity, sexuality
For those who disagree with the updated curriculum, you have the option of pulling your kid from health classes if you like. That is your choice. Heck, you can even withdraw your kids from public school completely and homeschool them. Unfortunately, instead the “Progressive” Conservatives are regressing the curriculum for the entire student body.
Now teachers are left in the uncomfortable position of having to alter their plans toward a curriculum that is clearly not in the best interests of the students.
SO WHAT CAN WE DO?
Some teachers are firmly refusing to revert back to the old 1998 curriculum, and in doing so are taking a stand against this ignorant knee-jerk decision. One inspiring sexuality educator in Toronto, Nadine Thornhill, is creating a video project to ensure the 2015 curriculum is still accessible to anyone who wants to access it.
Just as some educators refused to address parts of the new curriculum when it was implemented in 2016, so too other educators will now surely elaborate on topics in the classroom as they see fit regardless of the current regression to the 1998 curriculum.
I hope that school and public libraries will also increase the visibility and accessibility of titles that address consent, comprehensive sexual education, gender identity, gender expression, LGBTQ+, and online safety.
Soon I will post a blog post with recommendations of book titles on these topics.