The Central Bucks School District is buying books to consider banning them from libraries
As part of its book review process, the district is buying books so committees can read them and make recommendations.
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The Central Bucks School District is buying copies of five books so committees can read them and decide whether to ban them from school libraries.
District administrators said in a written statement to WHYY News on Tuesday that they initially checked out the books from district libraries so that review committees could read them to ensure that students are not exposed to “age-inappropriate sexualized content.” Those books have “since been returned” to the libraries.
Now “as part of the review process, the district will purchase additional copies of the books as needed,” district administrators said. District administrators did not answer WHYY News’ questions about how many books the district is buying and the cost of those books.
The district formed one reconsideration committee for each of the five books, according to a district email to librarians dated Dec. 1, 2022.
Superintendent Abe Lucabaugh said no one “challenged” the books, but the district “is taking a look at books that were raised throughout the debate about this policy as part of the district’s due diligence as educators,” to “guard against the sexualization of children.”
This would be the first test of the district’s controversial library book policy, which aims to ban books deemed “inappropriate” for including “sexualized content.”
Four of the books center LGBTQ characters and stories: “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, “This Book is Gay” by Juno Dawson, “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison, and “Beyond Magenta” by Susan Kuklin. The list also includes “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews.
Lucabaugh said the review committees are made up of the library coordinator, school librarians, administrators, teachers, and the K-12 language arts supervisor. The district’s policy says a committee will review each book and produce a “findings report” for the school board. The Republican-majority school board will make the final decision on whether to keep the book in libraries.
The library book policy does not require the committees to review the books in their entirety, evaluate their “literary merit,” nor consult with specific professional reviews and journals such as Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal to determine suitability for readers.
It defines in some detail what would be considered “inappropriate” content, including definitions of “visually implied depictions of sexual acts” and “implied nudity.”
The conservative Christian law firm, Independence Law Center, reviewed recent updates to the policy, as first reported by the Bucks County Courier Times. The Independence Law Center is the legal arm of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which is a statewide branch of the national organization Family Research Council, an anti-LGBTQ Christian nationalist group designated as an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The district’s relationship with the Independence Law Center has called into question the separation of church and state within a public school district.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups in the United States, says the FRC’s specialty is in “defaming LGBTQ people” and erroneously linking LGBTQ people with pedophilia.
The Pennsylvania Family Institute’s website states: “Family starts with a healthy marriage between one man and one woman, who raise their children in an intentional and loving home.”
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