Seminole County School Board member raises concerns over books in schools

Board member said books may contain inappropriate material

Brevard County teacher raises money to get banned books to students

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Following a meeting earlier this week, Seminole County School Board Chairwoman Amy Pennock has filed to pull certain books from district schools for review.

The forms — meant to provide parents and community members with a means to object to certain school materials — discussed eight books found in district schools, including the following.

  • “Date Rape,” by Christine Watkins
  • “Deogratias,” by Jean-Philippe Stassen
  • “Let’s Talk About It,” by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan
  • “Lucky,” by Alice Sebold
  • “Push,” by Sapphire
  • “Sold,” by Patricia McCormick
  • “Triangles,” by Ellen Hopkins
  • “Tricks,” by Ellen Hopkins

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According to Pennock, the books were brought to her attention in hopes that the school board would review the content and make sure they were appropriate for students.

“As a School Board Member, I had a parent reach out with a concern that this book was in a High School library,” Pennock wrote in each of the forms. “The parent wanted to bring it to my attention in hopes that we could review access to the book and ensure that only age appropriate individuals had access to this book.”

Pennock added that the parent was uncomfortable speaking out to administration about the works due to a fear of “retribution.”

The forms include publisher and review information about material found in the eight titles, including themes of prostitution, sexual slavery, rape, teen pregnancy and a visual guide for masturbation.

Pennock said that she wants to have the books reviewed to make sure their availability to students doesn’t violate state law.

“I am asking for a review of the book to take place, and a process for which this book can be marked sensitive in nature and we follow any appropriate parental notification of a minor checking out this book,” Pennock wrote. “I AM NOT asking for the removal, banning or censorship of this book.”

According to state law, the distribution of “harmful materials” to minors includes any kind of reproduction, description or representation of sexual conduct when it is “patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable material or conduct for minors.”

The forms also included rating information from the website BookLooks, a Brevard County-based group that provides parents with information on potentially inappropriate content in certain books found in schools.

The book ratings that Pennock provided ranged from four to five. According to BookLooks, a four rating means the book shouldn’t be viewed by minors, and a five rating is “aberrant content.”

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Anthony, a graduate of the University of Florida, joined in April 2022.