OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Outraged parents came up one by one Tuesday addressing the Osceola County School board.
Multiple parents read excerpts from books they said were found in school media centers.
“Have you ever gotten a [sexual act]...” one parent read aloud. “Lara unbuttoned my pants and pulled down my boxers a little and pulled out my penis.”
That is a passage from the book “Looking for Alaska.” The parent said it is disturbing these kinds of books are at the fingertips of students.
She questioned board members.
“Do you guys think this is appropriate for kids in school?” the parent said.
Other parents followed suit, reading excerpts from different books they considered distasteful, like “Gender Queer.”
“I got a new strap-on harness today, I can’t wait to put it on you. It will fit my favorite dildo perfectly,” another parent read.
Parents blamed board members for keeping the “pornographic” books on the shelves.
The same issues were broached in Orange County Public Schools last year. The book “Gender Queer” caused some controversy and was pulled from three district high schools.
The same book was also banned in Brevard County Public Schools.
Pen America is an advocacy group for free expression. The organization recently released a report documenting the spike in book censorship in school districts across the country.
The advocacy group notes it represents a serious threat to free expression and students’ First Amendment rights.
The report shows in the past nine months, 1,586 books have been banned in 86 school districts in 26 states.
“Get it out of the schools. Go and tell them to purge it,” one parent yelled at board members.
Friday, News 6 learned District Superintendent Debra Pace instructed staff to gather these four books from school libraries:
- Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
- Me, Earl and the Dying Girl
- All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
- Looking for Alaska by John Green
Each of them is under review.
The district also created a 3-tier access plan to empower parents.
Now, they can filter what their kids read by choosing one of these preferences:
- Unlimited (full access, mature content may be involved)
- Limited (may check out books in the media center, but nothing involving mature content); and
- No Access (student is not permitted to check books out of the media center).
Parents can access the form to tell the district their preference here.
You can watch the school board meeting in the media player below. Warning: the video contains graphic language which some people may find offensive.