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Monday, September 26, 2022

Communities Concerned Over Explicit Content Found In School Libraries, Is A Book Ban Reasonable?

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Polk County, FL – In recent days there have been numerous reports of groups around the country complaining about certain books within schools and feel that they should be removed. The groups are concerned if the graphic content within these books is healthy for children to be reading. The question that does not appear to be raised and probably should, is do these books need to be removed from school libraries or simply prevented from being forced curriculum? 

In Polk County, Florida, there is a group called CCDF (County Citizens Defending Freedom) that have made a request to Superintendent Frederick Heid to review 16 books that are currently in libraries of the Polk County Public Schools. The group has stated that the books contain pornographic material that may be harmful to children. 

The 16 books in questions are as follows: 

“Two Boys Kissing” by David Levithan  

“The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini  

“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer   

“Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher  

“The Vincent Boys” by Abbi Glines  

“It’s Perfectly Normal” by Robie Harris and illustrated by Michael Emberley  

“Real Live Boyfriends” by E. Lockhart  

“George” by Alex Gino  

“I am Jazz” by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings  

“Drama” by Raina Telgemeier  

“Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult  

“More Happy Than Not” by Adam Silvera  

“Beloved” by Toni Morrison  

“The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison  

“Tricks” by Ellen Hopkins  

“Almost Perfect” by Brian Katcher 

There was an interview conducted with the CCDF local chapter leader for Polk County, Jimmy Nelson, conducted by a reporter for the Lakeland Ledger here, if you care to read. 

It appears that the group’s greatest concern for these books to be in the libraries for children to read would be due to the explicit content such as rape, consensual intercourse, same sex rape, same sex consensual intercourse, etc. However, when asked about the bible containing some of this content the individual chose not to reply.  

How can we decide on an age that would be appropriate for someone to read a book with such content if we cannot decide on what circumstance the explicit content is considered appropriate?  

An argument that some of the students are making in Texas is “I’m simply going to say that no government—and public school is an extension of government—has ever banned books and banned information from its public and been remembered in history as the good guys”. 

I do believe that this scenario is slightly different when it comes to banning content. The group is attempting to ban or remove the content from schools alone, not rid the books from existence. I do believe the students have a fair point in the fact that these books should not be removed in their entirety from the schools. Books are designed to stimulate your mind which is typically the idea behind education. 

Would it be reasonable for everyone to agree that books with such explicit and detailed writing of sex in so many forms could reside within schools? What if everyone came together and agreed that certain ages of children or grades could have access to a set of explicit books and grades or ages under it should not have access to them? Why not implement a tier system where a book such as “It’s perfectly Normal” which uses cartoons for sex education could be accessed by 10th graders or 15-year old’s and above only? That is a hypothetical scenario, but why is it not being considered during the book removal proposal? 

Children are humans and humans develop. We must understand that the children need sexual education and be aware of what sexual intercourse is and what the biological purpose of sexual intercourse is. If we allow all books containing content regarding sexual intercourse to be removed, sexual education should probably be considered for removal as well. 

These groups that are developing around the country and attempting to remove books from being available do appear to be completely unreasonable with their demands seeing as how they have made no attempt to negotiate the circumstances in which the books could be or should be available to the developing student. 

These groups could be considered naïve to believe that the children are not going to have access to all of the books plus more on their electronic devices. If they discover that someone is attempting to remove the content entirely, they are bound to go out and discover it themselves, which typically leads down a rabbit hole of information that is bound to be much more explicit than the books in question. 

Should sexual books be removed or should a system of age/grade related access be put in place? 

Two articles that are covering “book reviews” in other parts of the nation are linked below.

Granbury, Texas

Wentzville, Missouri

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