|Sexually Explicit Material in Schools
Over the past week I started receiving questions about republicans in Iowa supposedly trying to ‘ban books’ – this is far from the truth, so let me provide some background as to the conversations / hearings that have been going on at the capitol. This month, the Government Oversight committee brought in five Iowa moms to share their experience challenging age-inappropriate books in their child’s school library or curriculum. The parents cited graphic sexual images, explicit sexual content, and disturbing accounts of violent sexual assault, rape, and pedophilia. There are a couple of takeaways I want you to get from reading my newsletter:
1. This is a serious issue.
We’re not talking about books with a couple of swear words or romantic scenes. We’re talking about material that is pornographic. I don’t feel comfortable sending the images or text of some of the passages of these books to your inbox, nor would it even be allowed to be printed in your local paper – which I hope would prove our point that these books should be no where near a child. Nevertheless, if you would like more information, I can send you some excerpts from these books or I am happy share some of the images with at one of my next forums. To illustrate, all three of these books below were found in school districts across Iowa:
Let’s Talk About It is a graphic novel described as “The Teens Guide to Sex, Relationships and Being a Human.” The book contains sexually explicit illustrations with instructions, tips and suggestions on how to perform various sex acts, and also suggests ways to consume pornography.
Gender Queer is a graphic novel about gender identity and sexual orientation written to relate to others who are struggling with gender identity. The book explores the use of pronouns and hormone-blocking therapies. It contains graphic illustrations of different sexual acts.
Push is described by Booklooks.org as a “heavily sexually abused teenager’s life circumstances change when a new mentor teaches her to read.” The book contains detailed and disturbing instances of incest and sexual molestation.
2. We’re not banning books.
This isn’t about banning books. This is about ensuring sexually explicit materials aren’t available in public schools without parental knowledge and consent. Whether these books are removed from school libraries or given a parental consent restriction, parents are still able to allow their children to read whatever books they’d like. The child may just not be able to get sexually explicit material from school.
3. The system is broken.
You would assume that once those books I mentioned above were objected to by parents that they would be immediately removed or placed under restriction, right? Wrong.
The process to challenge a book is a bureaucratic mess and gives little to no power to parents. One parent from this month’s meeting described the book reconsideration process in her school district which required her to go through an eight-step process that included at least four different administrator-selected committees and other boards. Eventually, she hired an attorney to help guide her through the process. She lost at every step along the way. The book Gender Queer is still available in the school without restriction. This issue must be addressed, and legislators are discussing many proposals as far as how to handle it.