Pornography/Media Policy

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

As a parent, I have been actively working to raise the standards of our schools in Burke County by addressing the issue of explicit and Critical Race Theory (CRT) material in the media centers.

The pornographic instances in the books available in BCPS libraries are 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 far worse content from their school media center which is funded by taxpayers.

The books ‘Push’, ‘Exit Here’ and ‘No Water for Elephants” 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.

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 purchased to begin with and are not appropriate to be accessible to 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.

There is a duty and responsibility for BCPS to protect our children. 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.

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.

POLICY:

In May of 2022, a revised policy was implemented which requires new library materials purchased to be approved by the Burke County Public Schools Media Coordinator.

This is great news; however, I believe there are some important issues that must be resolved that pertain to parental rights.

The new policy states:

3210 (C): “While input from the community is appreciated, professional educators are in the best position to determine whether a particular supplementary material is appropriate for the age and maturity of the students.” (UPDATE: REMOVED)

Removing the parents from being able to determine the standards of their own children's materials undermines their parental authority. If parents are concerned about material being graphic or inappropriate, they must rely on the “professional educators” having that same belief and values.

This also is stated in the policy for instructional materials for the classroom:

3210 (B): “While input from the community may be sought, the board believes professional educators are in the best position to determine whether a particular instructional material is appropriate for the age and maturity of the students and for the subject matter being taught.” (UPDATE: REMOVED)

The policy makes an effort to claim that they are inline with the student’s First Amendment rights yet strips away the rights of the parents. Taxpayers should absolutely have the right to protest and question the funding of materials that they do not support.

Another issue concerning parental rights is that if a parent learns about a book in a BCPS library that they find inappropriate, the parent can only challenge it if the book is in the school that their child is currently enrolled. This is why I am unable to challenge the books that I have listed as problematic.

3210(C): “A Request for Reconsideration of Library Books Form for Parents may be submitted to the principal regarding the availability of supplementary materials at their child/children’s school…"(UPDATE: UNDER THE PROCESS OF BEING REMOVED)

Also according to policy, if other copies of the same book is at multiple schools, the parent cannot challenge those as well.

3210(C): "...The decision of the school advisory committee will apply only to the school in which the challenge originated." (UPDATE: REMOVED)

While new material must be approved, parents will have to rely on the Media Coordinator’s discernment on what is or is not appropriate. Once the material makes it into the library, the odds of it being removed is very unlikely. A guideline for what types of materials that are not appropriate should be entered into policy which should include excessively graphic language and or depictions of sexual activity.

The new media policy does not address pornographic or sexual explicit materials. With the amount of content that is coming into schools from bulk book orders, it is extremely important that policy is implemented to deal with this issue.

It is also important that parents have equal representation on the book review challenge committees and that stakeholders are included in the right to challenge material as well.