The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –
The Wilson County School Board voted last week to place a book on the district’s Mature Reading list despite a book review committee’s recommendation to keep it accessible to all high school students without parental consent.
In Wilson County, parents must opt-in to give permission before their children can access books placed on the Mature Reading List.
The book in question, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky highlights serious issues such as suicide, rape, relationship violence, abortion, drug abuse, homosexual adventures, child molestation and more.
Parents in Wilson County say the book contains graphic depictions of sex acts – both heterosexual and homosexual – and suicide.
Wilson County’s Book Review Committee, a committee of twelve members- eleven who work for Wilson County Schools in some capacity, and one community member – has yet to recommend removal of any of the twelve books that have been sent to them for review since April 2022.
Last month, board members voted to remove two challenged books from the district entirely after the review committee recommended moving them to the Mature Reading List.
Zone 1 board member Carrie Pfeiffer, who voted to keep Tricks by Ellen Hopkins and Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by L.C. Rosen on library shelves, accused her fellow board members on Wednesday night of banning books.
“You are banning books if you vote to remove this and telling yourself that you are not; you are lying to yourself,” Pfeiffer said during the meeting.
Zone 4 board member Joseph Padilla pointed out that a Tennessee state statute allows for removal of books.
Tennessee Code 49-6-3803 states that if the local board of education determines that material contained in the school’s library collection “is not appropriate for the age and maturity levels of the students who may access the materials, or is not suitable for, or consistent with, the educational mission of the school, then the school shall remove the material from the library collection.”
Padilla asked, “Why can’t school be a place where all the sexualization and perversion and drugs, sex, and alcohol – why can’t school be a place where kids go to escape that realm and just focus on learning?”
Redacted excerpt from The Perks of Being a Wallflower:
Along with Zone 2 board member Beth Myers, Padilla made a motion to reject the recommendation of the book review committee and remove The Perks of Being a Wallflower from all high school libraries.
After that motion failed, Pfeiffer made a motion to accept the recommendation from the book review committee. Zone 6 board member Kimberly McGee made a motion to amend that recommendation and move the book to the mature reading list instead. The motion passed 4-2 with Padilla abstaining.
The Wilson County Materials Review Committee, a newly formed, self-appointed group made up of community members, addressed the board at the beginning of the meeting for an hour. The group has a list of eighty-five books they wish for the board to remove from the district.
About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and reporter for The Tennessee Conservative. You can reach Paula at firstname.lastname@example.org.