Maine : Parents concerns over the book that discusses puberty and sex education

Aug 23, 2022

BUXTON (WGME) — A school district in Maine is considering banning two books on puberty and sex education from its libraries.

MSAD 6 held its first meeting about the ban Monday night after a citizen group challenged a book called “It’s Perfectly Normal.”

Students can currently check out the book “It’s Perfectly Normal” at Bonny Eagle Middle School, but some community members want it banned. During a meeting Monday night, they shared concerns about the book’s reference to the LGBTQ community.

“I personally agree that this book is patently immoral and undermines parental rights in our society in general,” Buxton resident Vickie Shane said. “I’m concerned we are encouraging emancipatory politics, which also flies in the very face of the stakeholders you say you represent”

The book “It’s Perfectly Normal” is at the center of a debate in Buxton about what is and is not appropriate material for middle school and high school students.

The book is about puberty and sex education and includes topics on the LGBTQ+ community.

Bonny Eagle School District Superintendent Clay Gleason says every book at the middle school is scanned through its inventory system before check out, which allows parents to flag books they don’t want their child to read.

“We encourage parents to do that if they have concerns and that’s something that has been going on for many years, actually,” Gleason said. “And I am not sure if we’ve done a good enough job explaining to people their ability to do that.”

“It’s not being taught in school, is it?” Bonny Eagle High School senior Parker Ward said. “It’s just in the library.”

Ward is a member of the LGBTQ community, and she questions why parents wouldn’t allow their children to read such a book.

“If your child is going to be gay, they’re going to be gay,” Ward said. “There is no stopping that fact. They’re going to be gay and they’re going to be trans and you can’t like, change them, you can’t convert them by just taking that information away from them.”

Senior Edwin Nickerson says the book may be all a student has to figure out who they are.

“People are allowed to be who they wish to be,” Nickerson said. “That is not our parents’ choice, it is no one else’s except for our own. And sometimes we can’t even decide that ourselves until we know about it.”

Gleason says as the school board works through this process, they’ll need to keep one school policy in mind.

“Parents have the ultimate authority for their child, but they don’t have the ultimate authority for other people’s children,” Gleason said. “By removing any material, whether it’s these books or other materials, we are effectively making decisions for other people’s families who maybe don’t agree with that.”

Chairman of the Board Nathan Carlow released a statement about the issue.

MSAD 6 has an impressive team of professionals who curate and select books to be made available to students in our libraries, nevertheless, the Board understands that members of the community may have concerns about some of these materials. That’s why the Board has established thorough processes to review materials that are challenged. This process includes an impartial review of the challenged content by academic professionals and parents, and generous opportunities to appeal these decisions.

Using this policy, a citizen group has challenged a work titled It’s Perfectly Normal. This challenge has now been appealed to the School Board, which welcomes and continues to hear testimony from stakeholders about this matter. The Board wants to make the best decision for students, which is why it dedicated an hour of its meeting last night listening to all viewpoints respecting this book.

A final decision is expected to be made at our meeting on Tuesday, September 6. Board members will have the next two weeks to review the book and all relevant materials.

The board will vote on this book in their next meeting on September 5.

The book “Gender Queer: A Memoir” was brought to the board as well.

That one is available in the high school library and the board will be listening to the community’s concerns on this second book on September 19.


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