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Oklahoma parents on Tuesday night spoke out against explicit library books at a school board meeting.
Stillwater Public Schools, which serves more than 8,300 students, says their library is selected by professional Library Media Specialists in a statement released to the media. The district said that there is a process by which parents may call for material to be reviewed, and they have not received any such requests recently.
The parents were summoned to speak as their names were called to address matters on the meeting's agenda.
“You guys probably are aware that TPS [Tulsa Public Schools] and Mustang Schools are going through some accreditation problems via House Bill 1775,” said Riley Flack, a parent that spoke at the podium while holding a book.
Flack went on to say, “[Stillwater] is going to have the same issue if you don't clean it up. And I'm going to find it and I've got some connections that I've made over the last couple of years battling [Stillwater]. I'll bring that to bear.”
Flack called out a book titled “It Feels Good to Be Yourself,” which he said was in two elementary schools and is about “gender identity.”
“It teaches the kids whether the doctor is guessing whether it was a boy or a girl,” he said.
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Doubling down on the explicit material in the books, a woman named Karen Flack, who lived in the Stillwater community for “35 years,” highlighted books at the public library that alarmed her.
Among the books she flagged at the school board meeting are “The Truth About Alice,” a story involving “abortion,” and “Perfect,” which contains “sexual activities, including sexual assault, profanity, racial commentary, self-harm” and other “high concerns on what the subject matter is.”
She said that there is no need for the content in the libraries and compared the books to “video pornography” and criticized it as “not appropriate.”
“This is just not appropriate. To me, it's like if you had a section of pornography, video pornography, for kids to check out,” said Flack.
One parent seemed to agree with the inclusion of the controversial material. A woman named Robin, who said she is a former elementary teacher, came to the podium to say that “if we never give our children a broad array of perspectives, we're doing them a disservice and setting them up to struggle when they go out into the wider world.”
“But, books that are recommended for the age range that is well reviewed by professionals or award-winning must remain available for our children. I'll quickly add that the addition of new voices doesn't mean the expulsion of others,” she said.
“Since books that face challenges are often books that offer diverse perspectives, choosing not to add those voices to our classrooms can perpetuate existing inequities.”
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Stillwater Public Schools released a statement in response to the tumultuous school board meeting.
“In every situation, we take parent concerns seriously and hope to partner with them to find a solution that's right for their child. If a child is assigned a book to which the parents object for a class, we ask that they start at that level; alternative texts can be provided for students by their teacher. If there's a book they don't want their child to have access to, we ask that they have a conversation with their school so that their wishes for their child's library access can be honored,” Stillwater Public Schools said.
Recently, a southwest Florida school district placed warning labels on over 100 books that related to race or the LGBTQ community, deeming them “unsuitable for students.” The district started adding the labels in February based on a “Porn in Schools Report” issued by a conservative group.
Parents all over the country have been speaking out against coronavirus-related mandates in schools and progressive curriculums that have been associated with critical race theory or gender theory.
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Education advocates have highlighted CRT curriculum in schools and opposed COVID-19 related mandates and lockdowns, with these issues leading to protests and recalls of school boards across the nation.
Republican elected officials in several states have sought to ban discussion of gender ideology and critical race theory in classrooms, particularly for young students.
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