Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds echoed concerns from Iowa Senate President Jake Chapman during her Condition of the State Address on Tuesday night. Reynolds took direct aim at sexually explicit books populating many Iowa school libraries.
“For some families, the school district doesn’t fit their values or meet the needs of their child,” Reynolds said. “And sadly, in some cases, school administrators are ignoring the problem or just not listening. Some even believe that it’s a school’s responsibility to not just teach kids to learn but to control what they learn — to push their worldview.”
Parents across the state have expressed concern regarding books such as “Gender Queer,” “Lawn Boy,” “All Boys Aren’t Blue” and “The Absolutely True Part-Time Diary of an American Indian.”
“The problem has been building for some time, but parents are no longer in the dark,” Reynolds said. “Recently, several parents brought to light that schools are buying and teaching with books that contain vulgar and sexually explicit material involving minors. These books are so explicit they’d be X-rated if they were movies. The content is so bad that after a parent read them at a school board meeting, the district took the live stream down from its website because the passages were too inappropriate—and yet many of these books remain in school libraries today.
“We live in a free country with free expression. But there’s a difference between shouting vulgarities from a street corner and assigning them as required classroom reading. There’s a difference between late-night cable TV and the school library.”
Reynolds said if school boards and administrators refuse to understand the differences, then we’re on the wrong path.
“So to the parents who are listening tonight, who are frustrated with what’s happening: Know that I and members of this legislature have heard you loud and clear,” Reynolds said. “Enough is enough. Parents matter, and we’re going to make sure you stay in charge of your child’s education. It starts with full transparency. All schools should be required to publish what they’re teaching. There’s no reason to hide it—at least no good reason.
“The same goes for the books in the library. Parents should know what their kids have access to, and they should have a timely process to address their concerns. Because when our parents are fully informed, they can make informed choices.”