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To the Editor:

I am very disappointed in the three Republican members of our Board of Education who were present at the 5/16 meeting. By voting to remove books from the NHS library, they have shown that they are more interested in the voices of a few complainants than they are in the vast majority of Newtown educators, parents, and students who categorically reject the idea of limiting access to books.

Like it or not, Newtown is now embroiled in a national campaign to limit access to educational materials involving LGBTQ issues as well as issues of racial justice. The parents who issued the complaints against Flamer and Blankets are working from a playbook created by a far-right group based in Florida. This group (ironically called “Moms for Liberty”) began by opposing masks and COVID-related health restrictions in public schools but has since expanded into open hostility toward topics of educational diversity.

We should respect and trust our local educators. These books have been reviewed by librarians, teachers, and parents. The committee created by the Board of Education reviewed the materials and unanimously recommended that they be kept in the Newtown High School library. Superintendent Melillo also recommended the books remain in the library. These are highly educated and qualified people who care deeply about their students.

During the 5/16 meeting, the Republican members claimed that they were trying to find a compromise solution. They suggested options to allow parents to “opt-in” or to specifically allow kids to read otherwise restricted content. What they refused to acknowledge is that there is already a parental-consent system in place that allows parents to restrict their own children from access to specific titles. This should be adequate to allay the fears of the complainants or any other parents who wish to make such decisions for their kids.

Our Board of Education is intended to advise, administer, and support our educators. It is not supposed to overrule the decisions of specialists in their fields without cause. The board should vote to support the findings of the committee and reject the challenges to Flamer and Blankets.

Hopefully, this will send a signal that Newtown stands for intellectual freedom and will discourage further attempts to ban books in our town.

Timothy Stan


Comments are open. Be civil.
  1. dennis brestovansky says:

    Speaking for myself, I have no objection to or desire to limit access to materials supporting LGBTQ issues. I do have an objection to unrestricted access to age inappropriate material, images, etc. regardless of the overarching subject addressed by the medium containing such inappropriate material. I do not understand why this discussion continues to conflate those two entirely separate issues. Why are should books be treated differently than TV or movies with regard to age restrictions?

    1. tim06470 says:

      The special committee, the superintendent, and many parents and students have determined that these books are perfectly appropriate for High School students who might seek them out.
      The reason this is an LGBTQ issue is that the current campaign of book banning is largely focused on LGBTQ literature like Flamer. The organization pushing it is openly hostile to LGBTQ and especially Trans rights.
      There is no explicit imagery at all in Flamer. There are a few shocking lines of dialogue, all of which are spoken by bullies. Blankets shows female breasts in a few frames, but there is nothing especially salacious when viewed in context. Certainly no more then one would see in any museum.

  2. tim06470 says:

    When I wrote this letter I was under the impression that an opt-out mechanism was available in the NHS library. This was communicated in the BOE meeting. I’ve since learned that this is not the case, and the board member who made that assertion was misinformed.
    Tim S

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