DEARBORN, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – After a review of many parental complaints, the Dearborn Public Schools system has removed seven books from its libraries.
In addition, the district has temporarily suspended access to the Library OverDrive (eBook) collection.
The seven books removed from circulation for review are “Push” by Sapphire, “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson, “And They Lived” by Steven Salvatore, “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold, “Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell, “Red, White and Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston and “This Book is Gay” by Juno Dawson.
At least four of the books follow LGBTQ main characters. Other books on the list depict rape, abuse and what some parents deemed “pornographic” content.
During a public comment section of the school board meeting on Monday, parents not in favor of keeping what they say are sexually explicit books mentioned “This Book is Gay” by Juno Dawson and “Flamer” by Mike Curato as examples of inappropriate material.
“As educators, as administrators, as people on the board, it is your duty to protect our children,” said one parent to the Dearborn School Board.
The same parent also said, “Then my concern would be that if this happened as of 2020 for the last two years, students have had access to information [and] books that are 100% inappropriate, not age appropriate. Even if they are curated for K-12 if you’ve seen the amount of literature coming through that is approved for K-12; I don’t want any of my daughters reading that, not until they’re grown adults.”
Not all parents that attended the meeting shared these same concerns.
Another parent responded, “I am opposed to any parent committees and parent involvement in choosing the appropriateness of books in our school libraries. I didn’t elect anyone on this parent review committee. I elected my school board representatives who in turn hire superintendents who in turn hire educators – who have gone to college and learned the appropriate ways to choose books…”
Dearborn Public Schools Board of Education member Mary Petlichkoff said the district’s decisions should reflect the values of the entire community.
“[The] role of public education is to help our students enter the adult world, where they will be faced with a variety of concepts that may not necessarily reflect their own perspectives or values,” she said.
“I believe that pornography and rape culture have no place in our schools,” one commenter said. “Schools should be protecting our children, not grooming them for a life of trauma, hypersexuality and moral decay. This is not an attack on people’s personal choices and lifestyle but a call to action for parents to say enough of this supposed fear of speaking out, especially when our children’s lives are at stake.”
Some books were physical copies in the DPS libraries, and some were only accessible through the OverDrive online library. It is unclear which school libraries are affected. The district has 20 elementary, nine middle and eight high schools.
The Dearborn Public Schools intends to create a new book review committee composed of teachers, media specialists, parents, and community members according to the Dearborn District Communications director David Mustonen. This committee would create more specific standards of appropriateness of books that parents and students could request for a book to be reviewed.
The committee is expected to form and discuss the guidelines Friday, but DPS does not know when the seven books will be reviewed.