This fall, with vastly different religious beliefs, Christians and Muslims united to stop what they considered leftist indoctrination in their public schools.
This week the school board in Dearborn, (Mich) has relented and will remove sexually explicit materials in its libraries. In a statement, the two books removed were revealed as Push by Sapphire, the graphic story of sexual abuse; and Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, a gay romance with sexually explicit content.
The action comes after months-long protests by Christians who were joined by muslis after local Islamic leaders had encouraged Muslims to attend a school board meeting weeks in advance and even used sermons as a platform to urge attendees to go.
Parents pointed out they were not “banning” books, as reported in the media, but asking the district to take responsibility and apply curation standards based on state law regarding pornography and minors.
“Some of those books are completely inappropriate for our children to read,” said Imam Sayed Hassan Al-Qazwini of the Islamic Institute of America, one of the most prominent Muslims in the state. “Some of those books promote pornography…We don’t need this.”
Hundreds of people attended the school board meeting last month, which got out of control when the crowd learned that their public comments would be limited to three minutes. The situation became so unruly that the school board chairwoman, Roxanne McDonald, suspended the meeting.
Protesters brought signs with them that read, “Keep your porno books to yourself,” “If democracy matters, we’re the majority” and “Protect the children,” the last one written in five languages. Activist Hassan Aoun said the school district “disrespected” those who attended. He responded by leading chants of “Vote them out!”
The school board said it shut down the meeting because the people in attendance were “violating the fire code” even though they were using several overflow rooms and were not all together.
But parents persisted, putting public pressure on the board and started talking about fielding alternative candidates in the next election. That’s when the school board member, many entrenched in the position for years, began to consider the parents’ demands.
Another book pulled from middle school libraries is Eleanor and Park, about a teenage romance containing profanity and detailed abuse. It will remain on high school book shelves.
In many instances parents said they did not object to some subjects but that they were included in libraries where 6th graders would have access. “That’s a lot different than having access by a student who is 18,” said one parent.
David Mustonen, director of communications for Dearborn Public Schools, said that the books in question were subject to review due to parents’ concerns.
“The Board of Education sets policy for the District but, like all school boards in the state, are not involved in day-to-day operations,” Mustonen told a media outlet. “The board did not vote or make any decision on these books, rather the outcome of the process determined the actions the district will take.”
“If the parent who shared their concerns is not in agreement with the outcome of the Review Process they can ask that the books be part of a Book Challenge,” Mustonen added.
–Lee Hartman | Metro Voice