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Parents speak out against books in school libraries

by Lynn Kutter | May 31, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Lynn Kutter/Enterprise-Leader Jamie Selph addresses Farmington School Board on May 22, 2023, with concerns about some of the books in the middle school library. She was one of three parents who spoke during the public comment period at the board meeting.

FARMINGTON -- For the third consecutive month, parents addressed Farmington School Board with concerns about books in school libraries that have sexually explicit content.

Three parents spoke during the public comment period at the board's May 15 meeting at the administration building, in particular about concerns with books in the elementary and middle school libraries. Each was allowed up to 5 minutes to speak and the three used all the time allotted to them.

Dustin Fitts said he was "appalled" and "disgusted" about sexually explicit books in the middle school library.

"Give me one good reason why a 10-year-old child should see sexually explicit material?" Fitts asked board members.

He said he would like to see something done to protect children in the district and also said he thought the district needs to have some oversight over librarians who are deciding on books for their schools.

Melanie McKane first thanked the board for everything it does for schools.

She said she believes the school can support differences "without encouraging materials that blur boundaries, speak in favor of violence and retaliation, contain graphic depictions, contain pushing an agenda or shine a negative light on our police, a specific race or gender or public school systems like some of the books on our school shelves are doing."

Books that are intended for a mature audience should be limited to mature adults, McKane said.

"Children in junior and high school, even a 17-year-old, are not mature or adults," she added.

Instead, McKane said, the district should spend school funding on books that encourage healthy habits, how to obtain proper counseling and taking care of mental health.

"We can encourage positive gender identities and positive body images without sexually explicit or LGBTQ materials being in our libraries," she said.

McKane asked the board to be the "one" to stand up for children and their innocence.

"You have the authority to initiate a positive change in our schools for our children without sitting back and waiting on being told what's right and wrong from other officials," she said.

McKane gave a personal example of a cousin who was a vulnerable teen and in his path to find his way found support and validation in his feelings to change from "Josh" to "Jessica."

"He did not have the emotional or intellectual support to fully understand what that meant but thought because he felt different that must be why," she said.

Today as an adult, McKane said, he has transitioned back to a man called "Jess," is married and "is thankful he never listened to his peers and the pressure he felt from our society as a teen and fully transitioned before he was mature enough to fully understand the lasting effects this would have on his life."

The third parent to speak, Jamie Selph, said she sent an email to Jon Laffoon, superintendent of schools, with concerns about 16 books in the library. She said using key words in her search, she now has found 60 additional books in the middle school library that she is concerned about on subjects that include transgender, LGBQT, police and racial issues.

Per school board policy, board members listened to the parents' concerns but did not respond.

Print Headline: Parents speak out against books in school libraries


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