Clear Creek Independent School District will ask parents to decide whether their children should have online access to a public library after controversy over a book about sex.
The change comes after a parent told school officials her elementary school student had, through the Sora app, accessed the book “Sex is a Funny Word,” which covers topics such as masturbation and gender identity and includes cartoon images of naked bodies.
The app gives students free access to the district’s digital library and the Harris County Public Library. The book was accessed through the Harris County Public Library, school officials said. When the parent complained, the district blocked access to the public library for elementary grade students, officials said.
The district is considering using an online form to allow parents to opt in or out of allowing their children to access the public library, Superintendent Eric Williams said in a Nov. 11 email. Library access was later discussed at the Nov. 15 school board meeting.
“We realize it’s important that parents decide whether they want their children to have a digital library card with the public library,” Williams said. “That’s why we’re working on an online form.”
The district’s use of the Sora app began in January to expand access to digital reading, according to a press release.
Students can access the app through Clear Creek ISD’s portal, Williams said. Access to books is categorized by elementary, intermediate and high school, he said.
“Sex is a Funny Word,” written by Cory Silverberg, was accessed through the Harris County Public Library portion of the app, Williams said. In addition to turning off elementary access to the public library, the district also reviewed what books those students can access through the public library, he said.
“Upon further review, our staff determined that book and a few others should have been placed in an older age category,” he said.
Williams did not name the other books.
But the Nov. 11 email announcing the policy changes was not enough for some parents.
“Kudos to you for burning the bodies after the crime has been committed,” Mark Callahan said to the board during the meeting.
The district was thankful the parent brought her concerns to school officials, Board President Jay Cunningham said. In addition to reviewing library access, the district also will evaluate its policy for addressing parent complaints in a timely manner, he said.
“These are actually good problems to have as it shows the willingness of the district to address our policy and procedures to ensure that all students and constituent concerns are addressed,” he said.
The complaints the district received come as libraries across the country have seen an increase in challenges to books, primarily ones telling the stories of people of color or gay and transgender individuals, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, previously told The Daily News.
In October, League City Councilman Justin Hicks asked in an email to the city manager that “Sex is a Funny Word” be removed from the Helen Hall Public Library and that the library evaluate seven other titles to see whether they were appropriate for the age groups to which they were marketed.
Kudos to Councilman Justin Hicks, The Concerned Parent mentioned in this article, and the CCISD Board, for SHINING the light on this situation, and addressing it in a speedy satisfactory manner!
Maybe all these renegade School Boards around the nation who are causing upheaval in our educational process all over this country ought to book a flight, or hitch a ride to League City, and learn how a real School Board should function and interphase with student's parents and guardians! Hint: There are some who would not have to travel all that far![wink]
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