JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Flagler Schools Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt has banned a controversial book from the district's media center after it was criticized for being obscene.
It was part of action taken on four books that were requested to be reviewed by a member of the Flagler County School Board.
The books "The Hate U Give," "Speak," "Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You" will return to bookshelves, while "All Boys Aren’t Blue" will not.
The book initially sparked controversy after a parent pointed out that it includes topics such as sex, sexual assault and consent.
A formal complaint was made by Flagler County School Board Member Jill Woolbright, who alleged the book was technically pornography under Florida law.
The Flagler County Sheriff's Office found no evidence suggesting the book was purchased outside the normal procedures established by the Flagler County School Board and that the availability of the book to students also did not meet the elements of a crime under Florida law.
However, in accordance with School Board Policy 414, the District Media Review Committee for secondary schools was convened to review the content and subject of the books mentioned above.
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The committee says "The Hate U Give," "Speak" and "Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You" will return to media center shelves. However, Mittelsdtadt has informed the complainant and the School Board that "All Boys Aren’t Blue" will not be returned, pending the establishment of a clear process for approving media of a sensitive nature.
“I believe in a procedure to give our parents the opportunity to participate in that process," Mittelstadt said. "It's important that we look at how the author has described his book in the prologue; in addition, he has made public comments as to the age-appropriateness of this book, is 10th, 11th, and 12th grade. Our high schools are 9th through 12th grade. So we would need to create a procedure within our school media centers that have age-appropriate locations for sensitive matters within our school buildings. We can achieve that, and we will.”
The complainant has the option to challenge the superintendent’s decision. Should that happen, the appeal would go to the Flagler County School Board.
The publication itself is geared toward the LGBTQ community. George M. Johnson, the author behind the novel, said people misinterpret their writing as pornography. Flagler students, however, responded to the complaint with a rally against censorship.
Students argued that "All Boys Aren't Blue" has material that is geared toward the LGBTQ community and is a coming-of-age story that many underrepresented populations can identify with.