Explicit Content

(Pornography: Printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity)

As a parent, I worked to raise the standards of our schools in Burke County by addressing the issue of explicit material in the media centers. With the help of the community, nearly forty pornographic books were removed.

Despite what has been stated in newspaper editorials, American classics such as 'To Kill a Mockingbird' or 'Of Mice and Men' have never been claimed as problematic in our schools. The material that has been questioned all had the same issue: they were sexually explicit and had no educational value. The pornographic instances in the books that were available in our libraries were so graphic that it’s unbelievable that they could be in a school library.  It is not logical that a 13-year-old student cannot attend a rated R movie at a theater without an adult but can check out content that would be rated 'NC-17' from their school media center which is funded by taxpayers.

The books ‘Push’, ‘Exit Here’ and ‘Call Me by Your Name' cannot be categorized as anything but ‘hardcore pornography’. ‘The Girl Who Fell from the Sky’ made regional news for its pornographic content which involves two minors engaging in sexual intercourse.

These books describe detailed and graphic illustrations of rape, prostitution, vaginal and anal intercourse, ejaculation, and oral sex. This type of material should have never been approved by book companies as age appropriate for minors.

Whether or not a book is required reading in the classroom, when a book is added to a school’s library collection, that constitutes approval for its content and a recommendation by the school.

Unfortunately, many of our children are exposed to explicit material which mostly occurs outside of the schools. However, there is a duty and responsibility for BCPS to protect our children when they are in their care. The duty as a School Board member is to protect the students as well. Exposing them to obscene and explicit pornographic material harms their physical and emotional health by normalizing the sexualization of children. The situation in our media centers would be a lot worse if it was not for some media staff catching inappropriate materials that were brought in from bulk book orders.

Parents, and not biased book reviewers or media critics, should decide what is appropriate, especially when it comes to sexuality. Bulk book companies have proved that they cannot be trusted to properly vet books for age appropriateness. 

To determine whether or not media material contains content that is too explicit, a rating system like what is used by the motion picture industry could be adopted. We must include the issue of explicit and pornographic materials in our media policy.