RSU 40 critics defied the books again – Knox County VillageSoup

UNION – Community and council members raised concerns about two books from the Medomak Valley High School library at the Regional School Unit 40 board meeting on Thursday, May 5 .

Superintendent Steve Nolan said the books had already been reviewed in accordance with district policy and were still part of the school library.

Some council members supported the district’s decision regarding the books.

Several community members and a board member spoke out against the decision, calling the books pornographic.

Jonathan Evison’s “Lawn Boy” and Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer” were both contested in October.

During the superintendent’s report at Thursday’s meeting, Nolan said the books had again come to the attention of the board.

Nolan said “Lawn Boy” is an Alex Prize-winning book. Medomak Valley High School has a copy in the library, and it was checked out once.

“Gender Queer” also won the Alex Award, Nolan said, as well as the Stonewall Book Award. There are two copies of this book in the high school library, and they have been checked out a total of five times to date.

Nolan explained that these books were carefully selected under district policy requiring a variety of materials, and were also reviewed at the time of purchase.

“Both of these books are part of our library collection,” Nolan said. “These are not required readings for students.”

He added that students, parents and guardians can inspect any library material, and so far no parent has asked to review any of these books.

Nolan said district procedure was followed in October to review the books, and the result remained in the high school library.

“By now it’s pretty well established that book banning is a national issue,” Nolan said, and those books topped the list of challenged books.

Nolan said he thinks the ongoing discussion of the book ban is a distraction from the important work of educating students.

Board member Jeanette Wheeler suggested removing the books from the library would remove the distraction, and added that the books were “definitely pornographic”.

“I disagree with you on that,” Nolan commented, and added that it wasn’t the books themselves that were the distraction, but the discussion of banning them.

Board member Erik Amundsen said that while he understood the books were controversial, the board’s goal was to educate children to deal with the world they are growing up in. Amundsen also agreed with Nolan that these issues were distractions from student education.

Board member Emily Trask-Eaton said the images in these books can make people feel uncomfortable, but they can help students express their lives.

“Imagine what it’s like to be one of those students who doesn’t meet the standard,” Trask-Eaton said.

Student representative Owen Webber also spoke on the issue. Webber said he sent out a poll to his classmates and 75% of all responses were against the book ban and censorship.

Webber said the responses to his survey also indicated that his peers wanted to learn more about LGBTQ history and issues.

Some students live in a house where their identity is rejected, Webber pointed out. “The books that are in our libraries can teach these students that they are not monsters,” he said. “The books in our libraries can save a life.

If having “Gender Queer” in the Medomak High School library saves a single life, then it’s worth having in the library, he added.

“It’s not Fahrenheit 451. It’s real life,” Webber said. He concluded by saying that the practice of banning books has consequences and that these threats against literature must be resisted.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, several community members spoke out against keeping the books in the high school library.

Natasha Wallace said inclusion and transgender issues were not at the core of their issues with the book, but rather the images and words in the book. “It’s pornographic,” she said.

Wallace asked if material would be allowed in the library that depicted a man and a woman speaking and acting alike.

Steve Karp of Waldoboro said he brought the books to the council’s attention a few weeks ago. Karp said the books contained pornographic material and that providing pornography to minors was the definition of grooming.

Karp said he was again asking the board to return those books to the publisher and seek a refund. “It breaks my heart to see this,” he added.

Karp also said he felt society had come to this for lack of prayer.

Waldoboro’s Bill Moody said that while the district wanted to support inclusion, he wondered if it included the devil. “Is that what we work for?” Moody asked.

“Jesus and I and many people here; we love gays, lesbians, transgender people, pedophiles, murderers, rapists. But we do not tolerate their activity because it is harmful to society,” he said.

Moody’s concluded by asking whether the council supported any ideas that benefit or harm society.

Warren’s Naomi Aho said asking teachers to support gender dysphoria in students was beyond their purview as teachers. “It is inappropriate for teachers and school staff to be involved in this,” she said.

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