No room for porn, but just review of school books


I was a little skeptical when Moms for the announced freedom he found 28 books “unacceptable” in school libraries in Indian River County containing “pornography and / or inappropriate sexual content or innuendo.”

“Pornography”? This is serious business, not the tiresome complaints about the F-word, Holden Caulfield trying to lose his virginity to a prostitute in “Catcher in the Rye”, or the coming-of-age activity in a number of books.

Then i saw a video from October 21 in which Vicki Flannery, of North Wales, Pa., read to her school board a frightening excerpt – not published here – from “All Boys Aren’t Blue”.

“Do any of you … find this book that describes a sexual encounter and rape acceptable to any minor, regardless of gender or sexual orientation?” Because I don’t, ”she said, according to the Lansdale Reporter. “A child is a child, and if you find that acceptable, you belong to a national registry, not a school board.”

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Primary school sex books?

School officials confirmed to The Reporter the book was in an elementary school library for five months, but was never checked out.

As it turns out, the book was also on a shelf in the Vero Beach High School library, but was never checked out, according to Richard Myhre, deputy superintendent of program and instruction for the County School District. ‘Indian River.

“Both an introduction for teens wanting to be allies as well as a reassuring testimonial for queer young men of color, ‘All Boys Aren’t Blue’ covers topics such as gender identity, masculinity. toxic, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and black joy, ” Amazon’s description of a George M. Johnson “memory-manifesto” explains. “Johnson’s emotionally outspoken writing style will appeal directly to young adults.”

Apparently, it was so outspoken that Indian River school officials examined it after receiving a complaint, then pulled it off the shelf.

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A teenage book exhibit is on display on the second floor of the Indian River County Main Library in Vero Beach on November 8, 2021.

School district launches exam

Myhre said high school principals, media center heads and district officials reviewed other books on a growing list that Moms for Liberty found mostly in high schools.

“I am ready to stand up for freedom of thought and expression,” Myhre said, noting that some content may not be suitable for teenagers. “I wouldn’t want my children (of primary age) to be exposed to some of these situations.”

Myhre and David Moore, superintendent of Indian River schools, acknowledged that some books had been purchased in bulk from publishers and had not been screened as required by a 2014 policy.

“You can’t trust you have to verify,” Moore said on Bob Soos’ radio show. “Why book companies would push this in our schools, that’s a question I ask myself. “

The problem is not just the suitability for age or the procedure. It’s a third degree felony in Florida to show any “obscenity” to a minor. Obscenity is defined in Florida laws like any material which:

  • “The average person, applying contemporary community norms, would find, as a whole, lascivious appeals to interest.
  • “Depicts or describes, in a manifestly offensive manner, sexual conduct”, including “real or simulated sex” and masturbation.
  • “Taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value. “
Three of dozens on a growing Indian River County School Book Watchlist provided by Moms for Liberty are pictured on a desk at the Indian River County Main Library on November 8, 2021.

Obscenity in the eye of the beholder?

In other words, there is room for differences of opinion.

Jennifer Pippin, director of Moms for Liberty in Indian River County and parent of 12 and 15-year-olds, is concerned that students could get academic credit for many books by taking them out of the school library. Parents might never know how daring some content is.

“Some of these books have rape, incest, things of great concern and you know a parent might want to bring that to light with a child,” she said. “There were books in there that explicitly talked about sex toys.

“It is just completely inappropriate and there are hundreds of thousands of good reads that do not contain pornography,” she said. “I don’t personally know any parent who would read any of these books and say, ‘You know what, I agree with my kid reading this and they have to take a test on it.’ “

I asked Pippin for descriptions of objectionable material found in some books. She sent me the ones I requested and an updated watchlist.

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Best sellers included in the list

The update included books not yet found in county schools. It included two titles that I heard about but haven’t read. They seem suitable for Strength table discussions – where students are free to express themselves and there are no right answers – often found in advanced high school placements or college courses. Books:

  • “The kite runner”, a 2003 bestselling historical novel (turned into an award-winning film) about the friendship of two boys in war-torn Afghanistan that Pippin says includes rape, sexual assault, and sexual content.
  • “How to be anti-racist? “ Ibrahim X Kendi’s 2019 bestselling book on how to alleviate racism.

Pippin sent me the group’s objections to a children’s picture book, “Antiracist Baby,” which she noted as “completely CRT (Critical Race Theory), racist and unacceptable to children.”

It may not be appropriate for young children – the language seems intended for older children and adults – but the content was not pornographic. You can watch it read on tinyurl.com/antiracistbaby1

Another children’s picture book was also not on the list, “The Superhero of Purim”. The book was about children with an “Abba” and a daddy – two grown men in the household. I saw no evidence that they were partners, friends, brothers, etc.

A graphic novel – like a comic – for young adults surveyed by Moms for Liberty that I viewed in the main county library (the system contained 8 of the 13 titles I asked to see) had a sexual suggestion , but not much more. Pippin was concerned that “The Breakaways” had pictures of teenagers in bed kissing.

One young adult book that I found that made me a little uncomfortable just reading it was “Two Boys Kissing”.

Pippin said she is okay with students and / or parents getting the books outside of schools. Expect the issue to be raised at the next school board meeting on Tuesday.

Texas lawmaker launches investigation

Larry reisman

Meanwhile, in Texas, State Representative Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, recently “launched an investigation into books on racism and sexuality available in certain public schools in Texas.” according to the Texas Tribune.

Krause, a candidate for the post of attorney general, did not want to tell the media where the “list of about 850 books” included in the investigation came from.

Critics told the publication that its investigation included books on “women, people of color and LGBTQ people.”

Hopefully that’s not the case here. Any district examination should target only alleged obscenity and age adequacy.

The last time I checked our community was diverse – with people of all colors, faiths, ages, and sexual orientations. Traditional public schools remain a melting pot and should have appropriate books for everyone.

Moms for Liberty, if it lives up to its name, should be a strong advocate for the Constitution, including the First Amendment.

This column reflects the opinion of Laurence Reisman. Contact him by email at [email protected], phone at 772-978-2223, Facebook.com/larryreisman or Twitter @LaurenceReisman

About Stuart M. McFarland

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