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Parents at this month's school board meeting. Photo provided.

Parents clash with Cameron school board over library books

Residents of Cameron, Mo., are accusing their school district of misleading them about the presence of what they say are sexually explicit books in school libraries. The board is also being accused of keeping parents in the dark about the process it uses in reviewing such materials.

The August 22 school board meeting was standing room only as parents and concerned citizens filled the room.  During the meeting, Lynne Landi, a professional child and adult protective services worker, said making sexually explicit books available to children who may be traumatized from past abuse, reintroduces the trauma into their lives. “Your teachers are not equipped to handle that,” she stated.

Seven concerned residents seek to remove what they describe several books from the Cameron R-1 School District. They have a combined eight children or grandchildren who attend school in the district. The group has put together a Facebook page titled “Cameron R1 School District Exposed” which outlines their concerns with the material accessible to students in the school district’s libraries. The page documents their interactions with school district officials.

After reviewing and retaining handfuls of books at the local middle and high schools, the school district maintains that it has followed board of education policy and is doing its best to give parents the authority to determine what books are accessible to their children while ensuring access to such books for students whose parents “desire a broader selection of materials.”

Heath Gilbert, who has a child in high school, first began inquiring about the presence of titles that made it onto “a naughty book list” circulating via email around the Kansas City area in September 2022. “I went to the school district twice, asking how I could get into the library because I was concerned about the books I was seeing in the news, and they stonewalled me and wouldn’t give me an answer,” he said.

Gilbert discussed the most concerning aspects of the books as “very graphic depictions that read like a textbook of acts of deviant sex, the normalization of sex outside of marriage, pedophilia” as well as bestiality and the normalization of drugs and abortion. He said there are rape, graphic depictions of violence and promotion of racist ideas in some of the books. “Grooming is going on in the books,” he claims.

“I’m not asking to ban the books. I believe there is content that should not be in the hands of a minor … I don’t want to ban the books,” Gilbert says. “I do not, and if a parent wants their child to be able to read that book that’s their child. I have no right to tell another parent what they cannot provide their child. But I also believe the school district should not be providing my child with this content and not know what’s in there.”

WARNING: Graphic Content read by parent at Cameron School Board meeting.

Parents have pointed out that the school librarian Tanya O’Boyle requested and received numerous books promoting the pride ideology. The books were obtained through the organization Hope in a Box, which sends boxes of books dealing with gay themes and transgenderism to libraries upon request. O-Boyle used her Instagram account to thank the group and posted a photo of her “pride” display in the library.

In response to concerns about the material available in the school district libraries, book reviews of selections available at both Cameron Veterans Middle School and Cameron High School have begun. The committee in charge of the book reviews, which consists of the high school principal, assistant principal, librarian, an English teacher and a parent from the district, has only reviewed five books in the Cameron High School library so far. Another five are currently under review.

“It took them three months to review five books,” Gilbert lamented. “At that rate, we’re going to be three to four years before they complete the review of the books that we have currently found.”

Despite public concern, the committee voted 3-2 to retain all five books in the high school library with no restrictions. The committee also voted to allow the library at Cameron Veterans Middle School to retrain three books without restrictions while letting it retain one book with restrictions.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

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