Keep Book Challenge Proceedings Transparent
To the Editor:
A few weeks ago myself, along with 64 other community members, wrote a letter to the Board of Education & administration regarding our concern over sexually explicit material in our school libraries. The original response we received from administration informed us that the book Flamer had been removed from circulation at both Newtown Middle School and Newtown High School.
Within a few days we were notified there was miscommunication and the book was in fact not removed from NHS. This fact was clearly not verified or “fact checked,” as I was also conveniently misquoted in an article from The Bee last week.
Several weeks have gone by while parents on both sides of the issue have begun advocation for what they believe is right. Those who believe sexually explicit content like this does not belong in our school libraries, have been ridiculed, labeled “book banners,” accused of censorship, and bullied on social media being called homophobes, right wing extremists, and worst of all, racist. There was a false narrative that began citing we were anti-LGBTQ, and this was the reason we requested the materials be removed which, sadly the school administrators supported.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
There was a special review committee of two graphic novels and not one member validated concerns of the parents. Instead they mocked parents and even made jokes about the content. They claimed that the objectors must not have read the book — despite all forms for Flamer stating it was read, further continuing a false narrative. One committee member stated that they believe this is all due to “anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.” Again forcing the issue of a false narrative.
Imagine our surprise when we found out this week that weeks ago the district had in fact (quietly) removed one of the sexually explicit books (Fun Home) some parents shared concerns over, without any communication. An LGBTQ themed graphic novel with many sexually inappropriate images. While concerned parents were being labeled book banners, called names, and even had an organized attack launched at them, the district sat quiet.
They had every opportunity in that review committee to express how they were taking concerns seriously, and had removed one of the books that had been questioned. They could’ve explained how this is not book banning, but rather reviewing whether this material was age appropriate, in regards to content, when they themselves have found at least one of the books was not appropriate and removed from circulation.
Are those in charge of removing the LGBTQ themed graphic novel now considered book banners and homophobes? I think not, and I thank them for removing that book.
The shaming that has occurred for opposing views is childish and unnecessary. Issues like this deserve full transparency to discourage false narratives and allow all voices to be heard without being disrespectful.
I believe as a community we will prevail and the BOE will continue to make decisions to the best of their ability to benefit all students.