The chairman of the language arts department at Northview High School and the chairman of the Escambia County School Board are calling for the immediate removal of approximately 120 books from school libraries until they can be reviewed.
Both are clear, they are not here to ban random books.
Vicki Baggett has been teaching for over 30 years, including the last two decades at Northview. She’s compiled a growing list of about 120 books that she says are inappropriate in schools, primarily due to sexual language and graphic designs that she says actually violate Florida obscenity laws.
She provided NorthEscambia.com with 14 pages listing books available at college and high school libraries in Escambia County and cited hundreds of graphic and sexually explicit references. Many of the books’ references, stories, and descriptions are so self-explanatory that our policies do not allow us to print them here.
Editor’s Note: The rest of this story includes content that some readers may find offensive or may not be appropriate for all ages.
Many of the books on his list contain graphic and descriptive sexual language, including pedophilia and bestiality. A book uses the F-word 116 times. There are numerous books containing underage sex, what she called “alternative sexualities”, “explicit violent content”, self-harm, suicide, rape, racism and graphic designs.
“I have directed the superintendent to quarantine or remove the disputed books from circulation until a review in accordance with state law is completed,” said school board chairman Kevin Adams. , about Baggett’s list.
So far this has not happened.
“The school board has the power to remove books from its libraries; however, it cannot do so simply because it disagrees with a book’s message or offends an individual’s personal morality,” the council’s general counsel said on Monday. school, Ellen Odom, in an emailed statement. “During the review process, if the school board determines that a particular book is pornographic or obscene, is not relevant to the needs of the students and their ability to understand the material presented, is inappropriate for the grade level, and the age group for which the material is used, or is factually inaccurate or misleading, it may order the removal of this book.
Both Adams and Baggett said it wasn’t about banning books based on their personal beliefs; rather, it is about using taxpayers’ money to buy obscene material and taking away parental choice. Both said parents have the right to allow their children to access books through the public library or bookstores.
Several of the books are winners of major literary awards and accolades, but both said the books needed to be reviewed to determine if they were age-appropriate for middle or high school readers.
“The most important thing is that we need to make sure children can’t access age-inappropriate material without parental approval,” Adams said. “We must respect parents’ rights.”
Adams pointed out that every student in Escambia County receives a library card for West Florida Public Libraries, and some of the books are accessible at those public libraries. “Would I advocate that? No, but they can,” he said.
“We have a scoring system for everything. We have a movie rating system. We have a notation system for music. Why don’t we have a rating system for books? We can even do it at the library,” Baggett.
The Escambia County School Board has scheduled a special workshop for October 10 at 8 a.m. to discuss a revised school library collection development policy and educational media review policy to ensure consistency with a recently passed state law, HB 1467, which requires school districts to be transparent. in the choice of teaching materials, including library and reading materials.
NorthEscambia.com will continue to follow this story.