Many people have been emailing me, calling me, and contacting me regarding book banning. First off, I am 100% NOT in favor of banning any books, no matter the subject. Books, to me, are that important, even if what they say is not something I like. When it comes to our public schools, however, we do have a responsibility to make sure that there is age appropriate, and parent approved materials in our classrooms that help our children become the best educated to take on the challenges of the future.
I will tell you that I am not in favor of banning any book, once again. I will remind you that a big push a few years ago by the other side of the political spectrum than mine, was to ban To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn among others, many of these were books that I view as formative in my growing up. These books were required material in my high school and today some are calling for them to be banned. I say no! Those who say to ban these books have their reason, I’m sure.
Recently the Government Oversight Committee of the Iowa House brought five Iowa moms to share their experiences in challenging age-inappropriate books in their children’s library or curriculum. During the committee meeting the mom’s shared explicit sexual content, disturbing accounts of violent sexual assault and rape, and pedophilia.
As I go door to door to talk with parents, the common theme is not that they want books banned; parents want the knowledge of what their child is exposed to in school. Parents want a say in the raising of their own children. It would be one thing if we were talking about a few swear words or romantic scenes, but we are talking about content that is pornographic in nature.
I’m going to share an example in a bit but want to give clear warning that the material is explicit.
If you are skeptical or doubt what I am saying look the material up yourselves. Some of these books have images which I will not share. To put it in perspective, television reporters were present at the Oversight Committee recently and one of the reporters said, exasperated, I can’t put that stuff on T.V. If it can’t go on T.V. then why should it go directly to our children?
In the examples that follow, all three are found in school districts all across Iowa.
Let’s Talk About It is a graphic novel described as “The Teens Guide to Sex, Relationships and Being a Human.” The book contains sexually explicit illustrations with instructions, tips and suggestions on how to perform various sex acts along with masturbation. The book also suggests safe ways to consume porn.
Gender Queer is a graphic novel about gender identity and sexual orientation written to relate to others who are struggling with gender identity. The book explores the use of pronouns and hormone-blocking therapies. It contains graphic illustrations of oral sex.
Push is described by Booklooks.org as a “heavily sexually abused teenager’s life circumstances change when a new mentor teaches her to read.” The book contains detailed and disturbing instances of incest and sexual molestation.
What are we talking about anyway? I am going to go out on a limb with a fairly moderate piece that is in these books. Below is an excerpt from the book Push that I mentioned above. It is very explicit but not the worst example that could have been found. I debated about sharing this because I know the newspapers will not publish it, but why? If it is good enough for the schools, isn’t it good enough for the papers? Shouldn’t parents have the right to decide if their children read the material below?
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT BELOW
END OF GRAPHIC CONTENT
Again, we are not talking about banning books, but we are talking about ensuring sexually explicit materials are age appropriate and not able to be viewed without parents knowing about it and their consent. Our system to review this type of material is just not working and it needs to be fixed. You would assume that parents might be able to remove an offensive book or ensure their child needs permission to get it should be easy, right? It isn’t easy. The process to challenge a book is a bureaucratic nightmare and most parents can’t navigate the challenges to get through it.
I’ve been told this isn’t really a big problem anyway so why waste the state and school’s resources on it. Recently we did a search of 51 schools for these explicit books that really do not have a lot of educational worth and found that all 51 schools in Iowa that were searched have some of them. Some schools had as many as 71 books that we searched for that deal with underage sexual encounters, LGBTQ encounters, and other sexual encounters. To make an example for House District 10 because I have been told that this isn’t an issue in conservative NW Iowa, the Spirit Lake School District has 12 of the books like the one I will have an excerpt from below. It certainly is a problem in NW Iowa that I seek to fix.