Urbandale Book Committee recommends keeping disputed books

An Urbandale panel, known as the Teaching Materials Review Committee, voted on Monday that school libraries should keep five titles on their shelves despite a complaint from parents.

The eight-person committee, including community representatives, students and teachers, voted to recommend Superintendent Rosalie Daca that the five books be kept and used as intended.

The books in question have been the subject of debate nationwide and in other districts of Iowa. They are: “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George Johnson, “Gender Queer” by Maia Kabobe, “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie and “Hey, Kiddo” by Jarrett Krosoczka.

Following:Concerns expressed by parents of Des Moines metro over LGBTQ-related books in school libraries reflect national debate

Parents and others in Ankeny, Johnston, Waukee and West Des Moines have also filed complaints about the books.

Dennis Murphy, who filed the Urbandale complaint, was joined at Monday’s meeting by Iowa Senate Speaker Jake Chapman, R-Adel.

Chapman had attended several meetings regarding books in metropolitan school districts and said teachers and other school employees who gave “obscene” material to students should be prosecuted.

Following:Iowa Senator Calls for Criminal Sentence for Distributing “Obscene” Materials in Schools

Murphy’s concerns started three months ago, he said, when he opened his son’s backpack and found “Hey, Kiddo,” which contains explicit language.

In a 10-minute presentation Monday regarding his concerns, Murphy said he spoke to his son’s teacher and high school principal, but didn’t think the issue was resolved.

“I had no apologies from the teacher or the principal, no explanation – what I got was the justification that the school is full of diverse students with diverse opinions,” did he declare. “As I told the principal and the teacher, this is garbage.”

Murphy said he found explicit and vulgar language in every book and objected to 33 pages in “Hey, Kiddo”, 37 pages in “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian”, nine pages in “Lawn Boy “, seven pages in” Gender Queer “and 11 pages in” All boys are not blue “.

If the district keeps the books in school libraries, Murphy said he and other parents would “sue the school district to force you to keep our children safe.”

Several teachers and librarians have championed the books, saying they offer perspectives that help students sympathize with different life situations or give them the opportunity to see themselves and their families in mainstream text.

Following:As Iowa’s school districts face new challenges with books, students and librarians speak out against bans

All books are available at Urbandale High School, although only “Hey, Kiddo” and “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” are available at the college.

“Hey, Kiddo” is an option for eighth graders as part of an English classroom literature circle and “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” has been taught in high school for seven years, has said teacher Leslie Dunbar. .

The disputed books in Iowa school districts include "Queer gender," "The hate you give," "The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian," "Lawn boy," "Hey kid" and "Not all boys are blue."

The other three books are optional readings for students. High School Librarian Christine Watson said “Not All Boys Are Blue” meets the goals of the district and the library and that the author represents a “rare voice” in the LGBTQ community.

“It’s not something that you can easily replace with another title,” she said.

The committee voted on each book separately, first discussing whether there may be any adverse effects on students resulting from the use of the material and determining the educational value of the material.

They then voted anonymously on one of four options: do not change the availability of the material, remove all or part of the material, limit the material, or go for a different method.

The committee was divided on a single book, “Gender Queer”, with a link between retaining the material or limiting its availability. A second vote resulted in five votes for the material to be retained.

Crista Carlile, director of teaching and learning for the district and chair of the committee, said the committee’s recommendation will be handed over to Urbandale High School principal Tim Carver, who will make a final recommendation in 10 days. .

Sarah LeBlanc covers the western suburbs for the Register. Contact her at 515-284-8161 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @sarahkayleblanc

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