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July 13, 2022
'Laws Prevent Reading This Material to Children': School Board Doesn't See the Irony in Silencing Parent
"How dare you attempt to disseminate pornographic material to school children?! Only we're allowed to do that!"
That's pretty much what the school board for the Clay County District Schools in Florida told a father as he attempted to bring material found in three books to the attention of the board. Why these three books? Because all three include graphic descriptions of a sexual nature, and all three are currently available in his son's school library.
"Tonight, I'm going to give a sampling from three books that are in our libraries at the Fleming School and the Oakleaf School. I know you can discuss the process by which these books get on the shelves because there's a Clay County employee that got paid to put this book Lucky by Alice Sebold. I'm going to read things. If there's children watching, cover their ears."
UNREAL. A dad says he’s gonna read from graphic books available to children in school and gets shut down by @oneclayschools board before he even starts because it might be against the law to read from these books in front of children.
These books are in school libraries. pic.twitter.com/PCJSMCttq5
— Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) July 12, 2022
But he didn't get to read his samplings. He didn't make it more than a second into reading the first passage before the board cut him off, shut off his microphone, and began scolding him for attempting to read "pornography" with the possibility of children watching or listening somewhere.
"The problem is, sir, these meetings are broadcast. [...] There are federal and state laws that prohibit you from saying the things that you're getting ready to say [...] that prohibit you from publishing these things to a child."
You don't say? It would seem strange then that the public schools are allowed to have these materials readily available for students to pick up and read whenever they like.
Now, the first book from which the father, Bruce Friedman, was trying to read is a memoir about a woman being raped in college. No doubt, the book has value. I would even be willing to grant that it's a fantastic book worth reading, but the book in its totality, the story it is trying to tell, isn't what's at issue here. It's the graphic sexual imagery that probably isn't appropriate for students of that age range to be ingesting.
The Daily Mail reports that the other two books are along the same lines: A Court of Silver Flames and Triangles. While these books may have value (and I haven't read them, so I don't know), the graphic imagery makes them inappropriate for children. And if there are federal and state laws prohibiting them from being read at the school board meeting because children someplace might catch a few words from a stream somewhere, then those books shouldn't be in school libraries. How this is a difficult concept to understand is itself difficult to understand.
Look, I would not hand The Bluest Eye to a freshman in high school. I would not pass out Lolita to a 12th-grade English class. I've read these books. They have value, but they aren't age-appropriate. If a parent feels they are, by all means, they are more than welcome to go pick up a copy of these works and hand them to their children, but the public schools should not be making the decision that children should be introduced to such things. It's that simple.
This isn't about book banning. No one is tossing Triangles into a smoldering heap of burning pages in the schoolyard. This is about making reasonable decisions about what children should be introduced to at certain ages. Public schools think it's fine to perform drag shows for children, so I don't think we should be trusting their judgment about anything.
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