Students Oppose Removal of Controversial Books from Casper School Libraries | Casper
On December 13, a parade of parents approached the Natrona County School District Board, asking them to remove a small group of books they felt were unsuitable for children because of their descriptions of topics like sex work and trafficking, race, poverty, gender and sexuality.
Monday evening, the students took the microphone.
Their message: don’t take the books away.
RJ Schoen, a recent Kelly Walsh graduate, said that reading one of the books in question, “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, was the first time she saw her feelings as a transgender person portrayed on the page. Removing books like this from school libraries, she said, would send the message that people like her didn’t belong there either. Another queer student said the library, with its calm atmosphere, diverse materials and friendly staff, was his favorite place on campus to study.
“Books are extremely important… it helps students like me understand the world all the more because we will one day have to navigate it as it is,” said Allie Scroggins, a student of Kelly Walsh, “not a censored version. “.
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Deleting that set of books would also raise the question of where to stop, said Alexis Collier, a KW student, who compared the prospect to “canceling” someone for a decades-old mistake.
Several parents and community members who were not present at the December meeting also spoke out in favor of keeping books on the shelves, some citing the district’s policy for reviewing library books. Others said the responsibility for regulating what a student reads should rest with parents, not a librarian or administrators. One student said the district allows parents to call the library and place an alert on their student’s account prohibiting the child from viewing certain documents if they wish.
Besides “Gender Queer”, parents had cited other books in December, including “Traffick” by Ellen Hopkins, “Monday’s Not Coming” by Tiffany Jackson and “You and Me and Him” by Kris Dinnison.
A parent, Catherine Morris, said she read each of the books and found that all but one, which she said contained pornographic images, should be kept in school libraries. Parents who raised concerns with the council, some said, had chosen vulgar passages from the works when they should be taken as a whole.
Anna Olson, whose three children attend Park Elementary School, said she was also happy that the library could be a place her children can go with questions they aren’t comfortable asking. their parents.
A group of parents also spoke on the other side of the issue, with a few citing the Bible or Christian morals. Some have said that even if a student is not allowed to take provocative material out of the library, he is still able to read it.
“Whether you agree with the heterosexual or homosexual lifestyle, I would personally like our children to be exposed to a healthy sex life, not exposed to pedophilia … we don’t want our children to be exposed to sexual relationships. child sex trafficking, ”said Mary Schmidt.
Another parent said having sexually explicit material available in the library may constitute distribution of child pornography, a crime in Wyoming.
Follow the city and criminal reporter Ellen Gerst on Twitter at @ellengerst.