NCSD Discusses Which Books to Allow in Schools
At the Natrona County School Board meeting on Monday, the board discussed on first-reading changes to administrative regulations regarding what books to allow in school libraries.
The change, which is currently just a draft, would have different rating systems for what books to allow in libraries for elementary, middle, and high schools.
In elementary schools, no books would be allowed if they contain "sexually explicit images or depictions of sexual acts or simulations of such acts," or "sexually explicit or implied written descriptions of sexual acts."
In middle schools, no books would be allowed if they contain "sexually explicit images or sexually explicit acts or simulations of such acts," or "following age recommendations of 14 or younger using standard reviewing sources, such as Booklist, Voya, or School Library Journal."
And in high schools, no books would be allowed if they contain "sexually explicit images or sexually explicit acts or simulations of such acts."
The proposal would also require libraries to have a list of all materials that are available to students and that parents are allowed to prevent their kids from reading certain books.
Like with previous meetings, many people spoke for and against the books, with people that had previously spoken against the books speaking in favor of the policy and those who had spoken in favor of the books pointing to issues with the policy that they hope get addressed.
Dirk Andrews, who works for the district, said that he's opposed to the policy because of possible unintended consequences.
"I want say I understand wholeheartedly the intent and what is there with it. However, I am kind of against it at this point and the reasoning for it is I believe there are going to be some unintended consequences that are there," Andrew said. "Yet again, we have not reached out to stakeholders for any type of input to ensure that that is not there. So what I'm asking for is for stakeholder input to be added to that policy and then let's move forward. I understand exactly where you're coming from, what the intentionality of it is, however I think there are some unintended consequences that will come from it, so I would like to get those worked out prior to them becoming policy."
Trustee Kianna Smith said that she hopes that stakeholders talk about what they think about the policy and that this isn't the final policy the district will adopt, as she has some issues with the current draft.
Vice Chair Clark Jensen and Treasurer Dave Applegate both spoke at length about why they are against having the two books in schools and that they look forward to discussing more at the Nov. 28 meeting what they think about the policy.
Jensen said that he has read Gender Queer and parts of Trans Bodies Trans Selves and believes the former is pornography but doesn't think the latter is.
Applegate said that the books constitute mature material and that the policy says there shouldn't be mature material in school libraries.
Applegate said that he hopes Andrews and other librarians provide them with stakeholder feedback on the policy before the next meeting.
Tanya Southerland, director of Public Relations for the NCSD, said that people who wish to provide commentary on the proposal can come to policy meetings, go to the district website, or send an email to any of the trustee members whose emails are also available on the district's website.