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Grand Haven school board addresses concerns over sexually explicit books

A few dozen people showed up to the board meeting Monday, Feb. 10. Most of them said there are some books in their child's school libraries that are inappropriate.

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — The Grand Haven School Board is clarifying its policy on sexually explicit books in school libraries after some parents expressed concern that some books in the libraries were not age appropriate.

The books in question were available to children as young as fifth grade and covered topics including forced rape, statutory rape and oral sex.

"You may say the story is conveying a good message," one woman said during public comment. "But what about the garbage you have to read to get through the book?"

Though most of those who spoke shared that sentiment, some others expressed support for the people who are put in charge of deciding what books are appropriate for each age group.

"I think censorship is a slippery slope," one woman said. "Children's book organizations give books age appropriateness. These are experts who are determining that one person's standard of what is and is not appropriate is a slippery slope to go down."

The school board on Monday announced options that parents have if they're concerned about what their kids are reading:

  • Parents may request their child's Destiny Quest login to monitor the content that is being checked out.
  • Parents may request a weekly email that lists materials checked out by their child.
  • Parents may meet with school librarians and request restrictions on specific titles or searchable genres.
  • Parents may choose not to have their child check out any books or use the school library, and instead provide their own independent reading material.

One parent we spoke with after the meeting said those options don't go far enough.

"Putting the burden on parents to give them all the titles that they can't read means that we have to go and find out every book in the library that's sexually explicit and I don't think that's our job. I think they have librarians and I think they should be doing that," said Jennifer Stuppy.

Stuppy says any sexually explicit material should require parental consent from all parents.

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