BARNHART: For Central Bucks, Age Appropriate Standards Are Not a Book Ban
Sadly, the Central Bucks School District’s library policy continues to be mischaracterized by many as a “book ban” that discriminates against LGBTQ+ authors and people of color. Likewise, a handful of media outlets continue to publish articles that propagate the same harmful and misinformed narrative, further dividing the community and villainizing the school board majority.
The reason behind these false allegations is puzzling, as the policy is entirely neutral regarding sexual orientation and gender identity issues and treats explicit content equally regardless of whether the sexually explicit depictions happen to be between straight, gay, or transgender persons.
The board and superintendent have tried to set the record straight several times, but it doesn’t seem to correct the deceptive rhetoric. Board President Dana Hunter and Supt. Abe Lucabaugh clearly stated that the intention of the library policy is to “prioritize materials that support and enrich curriculum and students’ personal interests and learning” and to provide standards for age-appropriate materials.
The policy also states, “district libraries must comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) as specified in 47 U.S.C. §254(h)(5), including technology protection measures, and all state and federal laws relating to the prohibition on pornographic and other harmful materials for minors.”
Seems reasonable for our libraries to abide by the law, right?
It is interesting that a book containing graphic sexual content is seen as appropriate for a school library. Yet, if you post images from that very same book on Facebook, your account gets locked for “violation of Facebook’s community guidelines.” That happened to a Central Bucks parent.
To provide some history, before the last school board election, parents discovered numerous sexually explicit books in Central Bucks schools. But they found they had no recourse. The library policy had been archived. It was clear that Central Bucks needed a new one. The new policy resurrected a book challenge process, providing parents with the option to challenge books they deemed inappropriate for students.
Shannon Harris, a concerned Central Bucks parent, recently explained that “more than 60 challenge requests were submitted to the district to date. The administrative regulations allow for 60 days to review the books being challenged.” Harris also stated all 60-plus books being challenged were due to sexually explicit content. Harris explained the book challenges would be reviewed by committees of Central Bucks staff members, who will read the challenged books and present their findings within 60 days.
This process is anything but a book ban. It is the best of both worlds. It provides a balance between upholding parental rights and trusting in the professionalism of an educated staff to weigh in on the decision-making. It seems measured and cautious. It gives parents a voice and provides enough time for school staff to form an opinion.
Parents across the district remain grateful that the school board majority honored their campaign promise to defend and uphold parental rights. They listened to concerned parents about the lack of standards regarding sexually graphic content in elementary and secondary libraries, and thankfully, the school board majority is doing something about it.”
Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or Facebook.com/DelawareValleyJournal