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Sen. Cappelletti Announces Bill to Stop ‘Book Bans’

Delaware Valley’s Sen. Amanda Cappelletti (D-Montgomery/Delaware) has proposed a bill to ban “book bans” in Pennsylvania libraries.

“The American Library Association documented the highest number of attempted book bans last year since it began compiling data more than 20 years ago. Pennsylvania ranks among the worst states in book-banning efforts, where there were 56 attempts to ban 302 unique titles,” Cappelletti said in a statement. “Of those titles, the vast majority were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community or by and about Black, Indigenous, and people of color.”

“As libraries and librarians nationwide face unprecedented censorship of books and resources, Illinois recently became the first state to prevent publicly-funded institutions from banning books and other materials. Pennsylvania should follow closely behind.”

But many parents say Cappelletti has it wrong. They say books such as “Gender Queer” or “Push” contain pornographic images, and curating what books to keep on the shelves is a basic task of a library. Plus, the books are just a click away for purchase online.

Radnor dad, Mike Lake, said, “The senator has a law degree and is no dummy. She knows the definition of child porn and the Pennsylvania and federal laws defining the penalties. It’s disappointing, but not surprising, how she uses the books banned by her own progressive colleagues (“To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Diary of a Young Girl” about Anne Frank) as justification for allowing minors to continuous access to taxpayer-funded child pornography. I feel like I am watching the fall of Rome play out in 4K.”

Fenecia Redman is a Malvern mom who sued the Great Valley School District over books with graphic images in the high school library and spoke to the state legislature to try to get those books removed. “I refuse to believe Sen. Cappelletti, an attorney, formerly a child advocate, has seen the graphic sexually explicit material available to minor children in public schools and deemed it educational,

“Redman said. “She’s now the minority chair on the same Senate government committee I testified before. I encourage her to watch my testimony, posted by some on her Facebook page. It’s shocking and painful to watch but necessary to inform her, a new mom, of the gravity of this emotional and psychological child abuse. Federal laws 18 USC 1470 and 1466A are unambiguous. She can make a difference in protecting all children from state-sponsored child abuse.”

Most recently, the Central Bucks School Board came under attack from the ACLU and progressive activists when it developed a policy that allowed parents to flag books for review that they believed were problematic.

“The idea of banning books is a direct contradiction to First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press, integral elements of democracy,” Cappelletti said. “Americans have a right to explore and engage with differing perspectives to form their own views. Public libraries are places where young people should be able to learn about themselves and people who are different from them, not denied access to the diverse perspectives that books and art offer us all.

“My legislation will require Pennsylvania’s State Librarian and our local libraries to adopt the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, which states that materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval, and to develop a written statement that prohibits the local library from banning books or other materials. Libraries that do not comply will be denied state funding.”

Cappelletti claimed the issue was not partisan. Instead, she said polling showed voters “across the political spectrum oppose book bans and have confidence in libraries to make good decisions about their collections.”


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POLL: Americans Don’t Want Obscene Books in Their Kids’ School Libraries

A debate has raged across the Delaware Valley between parents and education officials over the presence of sexually-explicit books in school libraries. Now a new national poll finds most Americans are on the side of local upset moms and dads.

A new Rasmussen Research poll finds most voters don’t want obscene books in public school libraries.

The survey, in conjunction with the Capitol Resource Institute, of 1,000 likely voters conducted Sept. 20-21 found 77 percent are concerned school-age children are being exposed to sexual material that is not age-appropriate. Of those, 55 percent were very concerned. Only 20 percent were not concerned.

According to Rasmussen Research, it is an unusual issue on which people from all political and demographics agree. For example, 79 percent of Whites, 73 percent of Black and Hispanic voters, and 72 percent of other minorities were at least somewhat concerned that school-age children are being exposed to sexual material that is not age appropriate.

And 85 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of Democrats, and 69 percent of voters not affiliated with either major party believed it is very important that public schools fully inform parents about what is being taught to their children in classrooms.

The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.

“From my experience on the school board and recently working with some parents, I believe this Rasmussen poll reflects the reality that a significant majority of parents want to know what is in the school libraries and what is being taught to their children,” said Bruce Chambers, former president of the Great Valley School Board. “The library issue is prominent in the Great Valley School District with the federal lawsuit filed by a mother regarding the sexual content of books in the library.

“You can also go to the Great Valley High School Library TikTok site and see that the librarian posts information about Queer Graphic Novels in the library. So, this issue is prominent in Great Valley and some information is available to parents, but it is not provided regularly by the administration.

“Those parents who have discovered the TikTok site have expressed their objections to the sexually explicit books in the library. Unfortunately, the administration and school board have not acknowledged the problem and, like in other issues, they ignore those whose tax dollars are paying for everything,” Chambers said.

Fenicia Redman, the mother who filed that suit, said, “This poll confirms what we all know: the majority of Americans, no matter their political affiliation, agree that obscene material, the kind I call out in my federal lawsuit have no place in public classrooms or school libraries. To quote a now deleted April 6, 2022 tweet by a Great Valley High School activist employee, ‘So called ‘literary value’ is a made up thing that doesn’t actually exist (or at least it doesn’t matter). There’s no such thing as ‘good books’ or ‘bad books.’  A book’s value can be determined solely by each reader for themselves,’ Knock Knock. Anybody home? You might want to brush up on 18 U.S.C 1470: Transfer of obscene material to minors before you show up in Federal Court.”

Jamie Walker, a Chalfont mother, said, “The (teachers’) union hated parental involvement in masking and in-person education. It really should come as no surprise they continue to believe parental involvement should be nonexistent.”

Megan Brock, a Northampton mom, said, “After two years of disrupted learning and unprecedented learning loss, parents want schools to focus on teaching students math, reading, history, and STEM. Parents understand the influential role schools play in their children’s lives and want transparency within schools, as they would with any person or environment they entrust their children.”

Parent Shannon Grady of Chester Springs said, “Yes, this issue is becoming a top priority for many parents across the political spectrum. The point on this issue is that the books in question contain obscene and explicit content that is not age appropriate for minors. Most agree that diversity of thought should be presented in schools but the selection of textbooks and supplementary materials in schools are to be used almost exclusively by minors. Schools have a vast number of options to select materials available to support and enrich the curriculum. The schools should prioritize materials that enrich the curriculum and choose materials that do not expose minor students to certain age-inappropriate content. Our goals are to have clearly defined criteria for the selection of textbooks and resource materials and content that do not include materials that are prohibited by criminal laws.”

The poll also showed 48 percent of parents and 68 percent of grandparents oppose public schools teaching children about homosexual lifestyles; 56 percent of parents and 74 percent of grandparents are opposed to public schools teaching kids about transsexualism. And 70 percent of parents and 74 percent of grandparents are against schools teaching kids how to perform sex acts.

Also, 55 percent of parents and 59 percent of grandparents believed children should not be exposed to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual lifestyles before age 14, the poll found.

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Muth Rebuked After Calling Supporters of Parents’ Rights Bill ‘Homophobic’

In a heated debate over school books containing graphic language and images of sexual conduct, Delaware Valley state Sen. Katie Muth (D-Chester/Montgomery) was reprimanded after calling supporters of these protections “homophobic.”

The bill, requiring parental notice when instructional materials and books containing sexually explicit material are being taught, passed the Senate Wednesday in a party-line vote. A second bill prohibiting teachers from speaking to very young children about sexual identity also passed the Senate. Both bills were sponsored by Sens. Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) and Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster)

“This legislation opens up a harmful window of unnecessary litigation,” said Muth, who voted against both bills. “They will be very costly to our school districts, school districts that are already under-funded, school districts that have had to pay out millions and millions of dollars to charter schools.” The bills include no funding for increased costs for litigation or insurance, she said.

But it was when she accused the bill’s backers of being bigots that she was called out by leadership. Sen. President Pro Tempore Jake Corman rebuked Muth and she recanted her name-calling.

Groups of concerned parents have complained to their legislators after discovering that library books such as “Gender Queer,” with many explicit passages, were in school libraries and available to children as young as middle school students.

Delaware Valley parents have complained to several local school boards about these books, including Great Valley and West Chester Area, but they were rebuffed.

“I believe this Senate bill is an excellent start to address the problem of sexually explicit materials in the schools,” said Bruce Chambers, a former Great Valley School Board president. “This issue was brought to the forefront by Fenecia Redman at Great Valley School Board meetings, but the school board would not even address the issue. In fact, when she showed the graphic material to the school board, they told her to take it down, and then left the room like cowards when she refused. Apparently, the school board didn’t see the irony in avoiding the material that was readily available to all the students in the library.”

Chambers added, “You can view an example of this online on the TikTok site for the Great Valley High School library. The second selection on the front page is ’10 Sweet Queer Graphic Novels.’ When you select it, you can see those Queer Novels featured by the librarian. This is the type of material that is currently up front and in the face of Great Valley students and should come under the legislation proposed by the Pennsylvania Senate.”

Redman also led a group of parents to the capitol last week to protest the books. The parents displayed enlarged posters of illustrations from some of those books, causing a capitol police officer to tell them to take their display down since children might be present.

Senate Bill 1277 would require schools to identify sexually explicit content in school curriculum and materials and notify parents that their child’s coursework includes such content. Senate Bill 1278 would prohibit classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation for pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students, consistent with the timeline for when the existing academic standards on general sex education begin in sixth grade.

“A school district in Chester County instructing elementary school teachers to withhold information from parents about children questioning their gender; a teacher reporting that a Philadelphia school was permitting volunteers to talk to elementary school students about LGBTQ issues without parental knowledge; and mothers of first-grade students in Allegheny County suing their school district for teaching about gender dysphoria without parental knowledge or consent – these are just a small sample of the dozens of complaints we’ve received from concerned parents around the commonwealth,” said Sens. Martin and Aument. “While we may not agree on what moral, ideological, and religious values to teach or not to teach our children, we can certainly agree that it should be up to the parent to decide – not the government.”

For some examples of sexually explicit content found in Pennsylvania school libraries and curricula, readers can, at their own discretion, review the dedicated webpage here, which contains blurred copies of the original materials.

The bills will be taken up by the House.

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West Chester Area Parents Continue to Object to Pornographic Books in Schools

In the face of parent complaints, the West Chester Area School District continues to keep controversial books on its middle and high school shelves, including extreme adult language and graphic images of sex.

At the April school board meeting, parents read some of the more explicit content of the books. Superintendent Bob Sokolowski responded by reiterating his support for keeping the controversial content in schools. “I’m standing, students. I’m standing with you and some of the things I heard tonight, we’re talking about freedom of speech. We’re talking about choice. We’re talking about choice and we’re talking about listening to the voice of our students and students, my pledge to you: We’re going to turn that volume up and you’re going to hear the student’s voice.”

Anita Edgarian, a mom, told Delaware Valley Journal that the “superintendent of WCASD pledges to ‘turn it up’ to LGBTQ students after many parents read from sexually explicit materials in our library. The rest of the students don’t matter.”

Mike Winterode told the board that when concerned parents, grandparents, and residents spoke about the books at a previous meeting, they were accused of being intolerant and transphobic. But many of the books they are complaining about include explicit scenes of heterosexual sex as well.

“Those speakers are missing the point. They’re only focused on the transgender characters in the books and not the content of the book itself,” said Winterode. “The fact is, along with [the book] “Gender Queer,” there are a large amount of school district library books containing graphic and obscene content, with heterosexual characters, as well as homosexual and transgender characters. Our concern is with the content, not the characters.”

Image from “Gender Queer”

Winterode noted that the books don’t just “sit innocently on library shelves.” In January, one of his neighbors told the board about his 6th-grade daughter being given a book about gender transition by her teacher.

Winterode noted schools are protected from charges of giving pornography to minors because of a law that exempts education institutions. He called on the state legislators to change that law.

Parent after parent spoke about the library books, some reading shockingly graphic scenes of sexual acts.

“There are many books in our libraries that are not appropriate for even high school-age children,” said Leanne Smith. “Some books include both physical and sexual abuse and even some child grooming.” There are “books listed 18-plus like, ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Tantric Sex.’ Do high schoolers need to read that? You need to take a fine-tooth comb to the libraries in the district.”

Lisa Mansueto said she is concerned about “lack of communication with parents” and “lack of common sense.” She read excerpts from “Tricks” that she called “straight-up pornography with a hefty dose of heroin and cocaine and prostitution and rape, all available to high schoolers.”

Alexis Cooper said, “School librarians seem to feel that minors should have access to all sorts of content even if it’s not age-appropriate.” She cited “Milk and Honey” and the book about tantric sex.

“If this happened in any other setting, adults would be facing charges,” she said. “Yet schools have zero accountability.”

“Leave controversial matters to the parents,” Cooper urged the board.

Several parents, a student, and an author also spoke, telling the board they are in support of keeping the books in the school libraries.

Julie Moyer leads a support group for parents of transgender children. She said most of the books that other parents are objecting to involve LGTBQ-plus information. Transgender youth are four times as likely to commit suicide, she said.

“I am grateful to the school board for voting to keep books like “Gender Queer” on the shelves…We shouldn’t make these books unavailable to the people that need them.”

Edgarian later said those parents who spoke against the pornographic books “respect and love” the LGBTQ students but do not believe these books are age-appropriate.

“I look at the total individual, not only their sexual or gender part, their interests, talents, personality, desires, goals. We need to stop categorizing people,” she said.

Parents in several other Delaware Valley school districts, including Central Bucks, Radnor, and Great Valley have also complained about books with graphic content in their schools. The issue was highlighted in the Republican governor race when former Congressman Lou Barletta recently held a press conference on the topic.

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