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This week, the Government Oversight committee brought in five Iowa moms to share their experience challenging age-inappropriate books in their child’s school library or curriculum. The parents cited graphic sexual images, explicit sexual content, and disturbing accounts of violent sexual assault, rape, and pedophilia.

Before we start to move any legislation forward, I want to take some time in my newsletter to be clear on exactly what we’re talking about here because some of the facts have gotten muddled.

There are a couple of takeaways I want you to get from reading my newsletter this weekend.

1. This is a serious issue.
We’re not talking about books with a couple of swear words or romantic scenes. We’re talking about material that is pornographic.

I know it’s hard to believe so I want to provide you with some specific examples. I don’t feel comfortable sending the images directly to your inbox, but at the very bottom of this section I’ve included a passage. Please, if you are not comfortable reading this material scroll past it.

If you still find yourself skeptical that this could possibly be true, please take the time to follow the links and view the passages and images from these three book examples for yourself. I have more examples I can provide as well. All three of these books were found in school districts 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.

2. We’re not banning books. 
This isn’t about banning books. This is about ensuring sexually explicit materials aren’t available in public schools without parental knowledge and consent. Whether these books are removed from school libraries or given a parental consent restriction, parents are still able to allow their children to read whatever books they’d like. The child may just not be able to get sexually explicit material from school.

3. The system is broken. 
You would assume that once those books I mentioned above were objected to by parents that they would be immediately removed or placed under restriction, right?


The process to challenge a book is a bureaucratic mess and gives little to no power to parents. One parent from Monday’s meeting described the book reconsideration process in her school district which required her to go through an eight-step process that included at least four different administrator-selected committees and other boards.  Eventually, she hired an attorney to help guide her through the process.  She lost at every step along the way.  The book Gender Queer is still available in the school without restriction.

The Government Oversight committee is working to set up another meeting with the school administrators so that we can hear their side of the story when it comes to the challenging process.


Below is the passage I want to provide as an example. It is not even the worst example from the book Push. It is just the only one I could get myself to include. Again, I must warn you that it is very explicit. I apologize for sharing, but I just want people to understand how serious this is.

Let me also just note that the fact that I have to be this delicate about this material in my newsletter, which has an adult audience, makes it even more clear that this stuff does not belong in schools.

Author: Pat Grassley



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