7 books removed from Dearborn public schools after parents raise concerns

DEARBORN, Mich. (WXYZ) — Some of the books available to students at Dearborn Public Schools have parents worried. One mother even filed a police report because she felt the content of the reading was dangerous.

The school district says it has temporarily removed seven books from circulation. They also restricted access to an e-book app containing thousands of titles.

Leaders are discussing this issue even in schools across the country.

Stephanie Butler says her daughter checked out a book from the Edsel Ford High School library on Monday called “Flamer.”

It depicts sexually explicit acts between young boys and graphic descriptions.

“You know, when you put something in a kid’s mind, it makes them want to do it more or try it,” Butler said.

Butler filed complaints about six different books — some available in person and others through the school’s Sora app.

The mother-of-four says her concerns aren’t just about books depicting people of the same sex.

“If these were just LGBT romance novels, that’s totally appropriate,” Butler said. “Where I draw the line is teaching them to actually do the deed.”

“This Book is Gay” is one title in particular that really upset Butler and other parents. Butler even reported it to the Dearborn Police Department. A ministry spokesperson said the matter is currently under investigation.

Paul Bruce, a former district teacher, says the book has educational value. While at Dearborn Public Schools, Bruce participated in the school’s anti-bullying campaigns.

“It answers so many questions that I wish I could have answered for myself when I was a kid,” Bruce said. “My life would have been so different.”

The book covers topics such as how to join dating apps and how to talk about your sexuality with people who identify as Christian or Muslim.

“You have to be able to address those concerns,” Bruce said. “How do you stay safe? How do you prevent yourself from being verbally or physically attacked? And how do you resist it when it’s thrown at you? »

Butler says those kinds of instructions, especially on dating apps, are dangerous.

“I knew I had to act before anyone got hurt,” Butler said. “I fear that if they meet someone (through the apps), they could be raped, kidnapped or trafficked.”

Bruce hopes the district won’t bow to pressure from Butler and other disgruntled parents.

“We’re not banning books, I want to make that very clear,” said David Mustonen, communications manager for Dearborn Public Schools. “What we do is evaluate the books in our inventory.”

The district says it has more than 100,000 titles to browse. The process could take a year.

At a school board meeting, Dr. Ross Groover, the district’s curriculum and professional development consultant, said they were doing more than just pulling seven books.

“We have also removed student access to all eBooks available through the Sora app and the Wayne Consortium and the Dearborn Public Library’s overdrive collection,” Dr. Ross Groover said.

Parents and community members took turns speaking during the public comment portion. Some were for banning the books and some were against.

“No one has the right to censor someone else except a parent for their child,” said a concerned citizen. “As public officials, it is your duty to try to maintain as wide an access to information as possible.”

A school board member was cheered by the crowd after saying the books help expose students to different viewpoints and ways of life.

“It is our responsibility to educate students in such a way that they are ready to become responsible citizens in the adult world,” said Dearborn Public Schools Board of Education member Mary Petlichkoff.

The district says it is finalizing a form, which would allow parents to submit concerns about certain books. That form should be available by Friday, according to Mustonen.

The books in question would then be reviewed by a committee made up of parents, teachers and media specialists.

About Stuart M. McFarland

Check Also

‘Busload of Books Tour’ joins Freeport’s Book Fairies to sort through book donations

Children’s book creators Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr took a detour from their cross-country trip …