Central Bucks library policy targeting ‘sexualised content’ sparks concern over book deletion.

Now, a new problem has been brought to the Central Bucks School District: A press to ban books in the libraries with depictions of sex – the information and the “information written ia” – any concern can result in books being taken away.

The Republican-controlled school board is expected to take up the proposed budget policy at a special committee meeting Thursday night. The policy, which calls for more authority for parents, specifies that in libraries at every grade level, “no one … shall have visual representations or description of sexual acts” or “detailed written descriptions of sexual acts.”

Books must be checked into libraries with permission from the school board and the librarian must read the books before asking them out – conditions that some have described as extremely stressful. .

Katherine Semisch, a retired English teacher in Central Bucks, told school board members during a meeting last week that the provision prohibiting content related to the Sexuality “takes very well” in a series of literary works. A Tale of Two Cities, The Canterbury Chronicles, Romeo and Juliet, Dracula, The Odyssey, East of Edena Madame Bovary.

“So it’s for the old folks,” he said.

He also asked how board members – “not chosen based on your background or teaching” – decide whether to approve new books, expressing concern that when they are encouraged to “search the dangerous corners of the internet to find suspicious things. the doubts and fears that others feel.

» READ MORE: The Bucks County school district has launched its own diversity program. Black families say the district does not tolerate racism.

The proposed policy borrows the language from one put forth by state officials in Texas. It comes amid mounting challenges to books across the country, including a focus on LGBTQ characters that GOP politicians and conservative activists have drawn attention to. accused public schools of “indoctrinating” children about the topics of gender and sexuality.

The controversy over the library books is the latest in a series of controversies in Bucks County, which has been contested over actions by members of the community that have targeted students. LGBTQ, since the unveiling of the Pride flag, comments about the words to be used.

Board president Dana Hunter and policy committee chair Lisa Sciscio did not respond to emailed questions Wednesday, including who wrote the policy.

Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, said the policy, which she reviewed before speaking with The Inquirer, was misguided.

“It seems to me that it is a policy that is not intended to develop a strong collection that serves the needs of readers, and in fact it is designed to exclude those that meet the information needs of students. .. things that are based on the definition of women’s identity,” she said.

Caldwell-Stone said the statement “relates to the lived experiences of gay, transgender or queer people, and can provide an opportunity to open up books that were previously seen as inappropriate. for the library in the past.”

» READ MORE: These are the books most often banned in American schools

The board’s policy committee did not take up the issue at its meeting last week. But on Tuesday, a special meeting was called for Friday to review the library policy, among other things related to classroom resources.

In a letter to the community Tuesday night, the district acknowledged it has called for the removal of Pride flags from classrooms, saying they have become a “point of contention and divisiveness” in schools. (During a school board meeting last week, the superintendent, Abram Lucabaugh, faced criticism for comparing the flags to political slogans.)

The district is grappling with protests at Lenape Middle School, where LGBTQ students have called for the reinstatement of a suspended teacher, Andrew Burgess, who they see as a friend. A complaint supporting Burgess said he was suspended for providing a trans student with a phone number to call if they were threatened.

The district did not disclose the reasons for Burgess’ resignation, although it said in a statement Tuesday that “all teachers and staff must follow a process for reporting incidents and dangerous situations.”

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Claims that administrators fired the teacher for supporting LGBTQ students are “untrue, and disturbing,” the district said in a Tuesday night letter — which also accused to an adult and two small children supporting the protests against the “outrage” by bringing pizza to the top. campus last Thursday, prompting administrators to call the police. The protestors said the incident had been staged.

Central Bucks also announced this week that its women’s education scholarships for grades four, five, and six will now be offered online, rather than in person. Earlier this spring, administrators told school counselors that transgender students would attend the same classes as their gender assigned at birth, take the same lessons, eat not leaving – a reference that marks a change from the previous work, and draws immediate questions. from advisers, according to one who spoke to The Inquirer.

“You can’t say we don’t discriminate” if “that’s what we’re doing if we tell a nonbinary or trans kid that they can’t join society with their gender, ” said the counselor, who He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from the district.

The proposed library policy stems from school board meetings earlier this year where community members spoke out against books with sexual content. Among the controversial books are a number with LGBTQ themes that have been the subject of challenges in districts and states across the country.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott The Queer Man a In the Dream House — both memos featuring LGBTQ characters — while calling last year for statewide standards to prevent “bullying” in public schools. In response, the state Department of Education this spring issued guidance for school districts that identified some of the language in the Central Bucks policy.

Although the word “female content” does not appear in the Texas guidelines, the two policies share the same “prevention of inappropriate content,” and similar criteria for school board approval of new librarian and “time for parent review.” The Texas connection was first reported by the Bucks County Beacon, a progressive news website.

» READ MORE: Hey, Central Bucks: Classrooms don’t have to be “apolitical” | Thought

Librarians say the Central Bucks policy will greatly reduce the number of new books that can be added, due to the requirement that the district librarian read each proposed book and then the school board must give permission. They know that libraries can add hundreds of books every year.

“How can all 300 books be read in each of the 23 schools?” Chris Kehan, an elementary school librarian in Central Bucks, asked at last week’s policy committee meeting. “It’s just as inappropriate as this policy.”

The proposal also calls for librarians to create a master list of all items for parents to check out. Kehan ​​questioned how libraries can provide that list to parents, noting that many district collections have more than 25,000 books — and the libraries are online. .

Semisch, the retired professor, told board members that the policy would not only limit library collections, but also encourage teachers to “self-regulate” rather than complain. in violation of the rules. He said the district will direct families to talk to their children about books that are right for them — “just like we’ve always done.”

“Your job is not to avoid controversy,” but to serve “all the students in our community,” he said. “That’s the range of books. There are many books. With new books. “

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