The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –
School Board Members removed two more books from Wilson County School libraries on Monday night despite the county’s Book Review Committee recommending to keep them on the Mature Reading List.
The vote to remove was 4-2 for both “Damsel” and “Infandous” by Elana K. Arnold, books that board members Joseph Padilla and Dr. Beth Meyers said include physical and sexual abuse, violence, and bestiality.
Board members Carrie Pfeiffer and Larry Tomlinson voted to keep the books in Wilson County, with Tomlinson saying that the board should honor the Book Review Committee’s recommendation. In the past, community members have stated that the committee is not impartial as all but one member is employed by Wilson County Schools.
Also during the meeting, School Board Member Joseph Padilla proposed adding a disclaimer to current language that parents see online when choosing to opt in to allow their children access to mature content.
Currently, parents see the following:
“Mature Reading List” books will be designated in Follett as Mature Reading. Select yes to allow your student access.
Padilla first proposed adding:
By opting my student into the Mature Reader List, I understand that my child will have access to materials which may contain graphic depictions and/or illustrations including, but not limited to, rape and sexual abuse (including child rape), sexual acts (including oral, vaginal, anal sex, and bestiality), illicit drug and alcohol abuse, vulgar and offensive language, murder, suicide, cutting and various forms of self harm. I agree to hold the Wilson County Board of Education and its employees harmless for any trauma experienced by my student reading materials from the Mature Reader List. Furthermore, I agree that I am responsible for the chain of custody of mature materials once checked out of the library by my student and will ensure that those items will not be provided to any person, regardless of their status as a mature reader.
During the meeting, Padilla stated that the language pertaining to trauma and custody of books containing mature content was no longer part of his proposal.
Wilson County Schools Attorney Lauren Bush suggested another version:
Books and materials on the Mature Reading List may contain challenging content including, but not limited to, abuse and child abuse, classic death or dying, disordered eating, drug and/or alcohol abuse or use, mental illness, offensive language, racism and racial slurs, self harm or suicide, sexism, sexual acts and content, and violence. If you opt your child into the Mature Reading List, your child may check out books or materials on the Mature Reading List from their school library which may include the content listed above.
A link to the list of those books will be included for parents to peruse. In addition, parents will be encouraged to ask their child’s librarian any questions they may have about the Mature Reading List.
To see what books are currently included on the Mature Reading List in Wilson County Schools, go HERE.
A vote on the disclaimer has been deferred until Monday.
At July’s meeting, the Book Review Committee will address another two books that have been challenged. Currently on the Mature Reading List, the books are “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel and “Red Hood” by Elana K. Arnold.
About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and reporter for The Tennessee Conservative. You can reach Paula at firstname.lastname@example.org.