Stillwater Parents Speak Out Against Explicit Library Books in Schools
KOKH - August 15, 2022 6:09 am
STILLWATER, Okla. (KOKH) — We’re only one day into the new school year, and some parents in Stillwater are already outraged. They’re letting the board know how they feel about certain books in district libraries.
Some parents say their children have access to explicit books about sexuality, race, and sex. This makes some of them worried about how this content might impact their kid’s development.
“You guys probably are aware that Tulsa Public Schools and Mustang Schools are going through some accreditation problems via House Bill 1775,” One concerned parent said. “Stillwater is going to have the same issue if you don’t clean it up. 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.”
Stillwater Public Schools (SPS) says a library media specialist decides which books are on display.
“They largely include award winners,” The district said in part. “Most texts come highly recommended by professional library organizations.”
But, that doesn’t change how bothered some folks are by certain content available in school libraries.
“I could walk into the high school right now and pick out books written by straight men that have depictions of sex,” Another parent said. “It would have, can I say penis? There’s no children here, right? There are books that have giant penises in the pages. Graphic novels. None of these people cared before right now.”
Parents who don’t want their children to access specific types of books are encouraged to talk to their school, and the school will work to honor that request.
“In every situation, we take parent concerns seriously,” The district said in part. “We hope to partner with them to find a solution that’s right for their child.”
Karen Flack, who lives in the area, also shared her disapproval at the meeting.
“I just feel there’s no need for this in our libraries,” Flack said. “This is just not appropriate. To me, it’s like if you had a section of pornography, video pornography, for kids to check out. I wish [the board] would find out more about that, and how these books are getting into the school system.”
Parents can also submit a form asking the district to review the material.
“It shouldn’t take a form,” One man said. “If I send an email to a man who is in charge of the innocence of our children, and the response is, ‘fill out a form,’ I would consider that a millstone offense.”
But, SPS says they haven’t received any requests lately.
“That process allows us to evaluate texts of concern to determine if they have a place in our libraries,” The district said. “This may or may not result in the removal of a text, depending on the results of that evaluation. Anytime a parent or guardian finds material objectionable, we welcome their conversations with our educators.”
If a parent doesn’t want their child to read a certain book in class, the district says a teacher can give them something else to read instead.
“We believe that, ultimately, conversations around literature enlighten us all to different perspectives and a deeper understanding of each other,” SPS said.
“Stillwater Public Schools, like most districts, has a process by which parents may call for material to be reviewed. The district’s Procedures for Reconsideration of Materials is included at the end of this statement. The district has not received any such requests recently.
Our library books are selected by our professional Library Media Specialists. They largely include award winners and most texts come highly recommended by professional library organizations.
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.
If parents discover a text that they feel does not belong in the library, we ask that they initiate a formal request for the district to review the material in question. That process allows us to evaluate texts of concern to determine if they have a place in our libraries, which may or may not result in the removal of a text, depending on the results of that evaluation.
Anytime a parent or guardian finds material objectionable, we welcome their conversations with our educators. We believe that, ultimately, conversations around literature enlighten us all to different perspectives and a deeper understanding of each other.”
SPS Procedures for Reconsideration of Materials
“A student or the student’s parent will have the right to reject the use of library media center materials which seem incompatible with the student’s values or beliefs. Classroom assignments involving library media center materials will provide for alternative choices, when possible. This procedure is consistent with the National Council of Teachers of English Statement on Students’ Right to Read, which is endorsed in its entirety. However, no parent has the right to determine the reading matter for students other than his/her own children. Books and other materials shall not be removed or banned solely because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
The review of questioned materials will be treated objectively, unemotionally, and as an important routine action. Every effort will be made to consider objections, keeping in mind the best interests of the students, the school, the curriculum, and the community. Since differences of opinion do exist in our society, the following procedure shall be observed to recognize those differences in an impartial and factual manner.
1. All requests for reconsideration shall be presented in writing to the building principal, using the Request for Reconsideration Form (see EFA-E1) adapted from the American Library Association. A copy of this request will be forwarded to the school librarian. This form shall be located in the building principal’s office. Only parents, guardians and site employees of a specific school may make a request for reconsideration.
2. The material in question will stay in circulation until it is read and discussed by a library committee, which will be convened by the principal and the media specialist, who will not be members of this committee. This committee shall consist of a member of the teaching faculty of the school, a member of the superintendent’s staff, a school principal in the district, a parent, a library media specialist in the district, and a member of the board of education.
3. The committee will review the questioned material and all critical evaluations available. General acceptance of the material shall be checked by consulting authoritative lists in light of the selection policies of the school district. A thorough review of questioned materials shall be treated objectively. Passages shall not be taken out of context, and material shall be evaluated in its entirety.
4. The principal, the media specialist, and the faculty shall implement the final decision of the committee.
5. The complainant shall be sent a copy of the evaluating report and decision.
6. In the event that the complainant does not accept the decision of the review committee, he/she may appeal to Stillwater Board of Education through the principal at a time of no greater than 90 days from the date the complainant received the evaluating report and decision. The final decision then rests with the board. The complainant will be notified by mail of the board’s decision.
7. Once a complaint has been filed, reviewed, and justified by the review committee and the board, if another complaint is raised against the item within the next five years, the complaint may be dismissed without a hearing.”