A pair of Ankeny mothers spoke out against sexually explicit materials in a district library on Tuesday night. The books have been under scrutiny from parents in Waukee and Johnston as well.
Emily Peterson spoke first and read from the book “All Boys Aren’t Blue.” She said when she became aware of the materials being in the library, she had to look for herself because she was in disbelief.
“When I first laid eyes on the material I’m about to read to you, my heart raced, I felt sick and I wanted to throw up in my mouth,” she said. “This is one of the checks for understanding whether the material is obscene.”
Peterson then read the excerpt from the book, which described an oral sex experience between two males.
“What I’ve just read to you is grooming material and sexualizing our kids,” she said. “It’s normalizing pedophilia and it needs to stop.”
She asked those in attendance to raise their hand if they found the excerpt to be obscene. A number of attendees did. In addition, at least one Ankeny School Board member agreed.
“And if you don’t, what does that say about you,” she asked. “What does that say about your heart, protecting our children and making them feel safe, which is your job? This is not the first time I’ve brought this to your attention.”
She was cut off when saying legislators and senators have the information.
“Now you can choose to do what you will with this and you will be held accountable,” she said at the end.
Kimberly spoke immediately after Emily and showed pictures from the book “Gender Queer.” She also read an excerpt.
“Now, I want to ask you the school board members, do you find this obscene? Do you think this is appropriate for children in school to see? Do you think this is something that you want your child to bring home and let your other children read it to your kids? I find this very disheartening because we can’t even bring a Bible into school. Because if my child was to bring a Bible into school, they would be told to take it home and not bring it back because that goes against your policy. But child pornography is not against your policy?
“I think you guys need to look hard at what is in our schools and what is being distributed to our kids because this is child pornography. This is grooming. And trust me, I know what grooming is because it happened to me and I do not ever want to see another child go through what I have. I’m here shaking right now because this has triggered me so much that I cannot even bear to let another child see this kind of thing. This whole book is that way.”
One of the school board members asked how they found those books and which school the books were in.
“I totally agree, that’s very inappropriate,” she said.
Ankeny Superintendent Erick Pruitt said the district has policies in place on how to address material parents feel is inappropriate. He said the books mentioned at the meeting are currently under review following current policy.
The parents asked if the board would remove the books from the shelves while the material is under review. There was no answer.
“While you’re reviewing these, we request that you pull them please because in the meantime children have access to these books,” Peterson said. “It could take you months to review these.”