Parents Fight Back as Sexually Explicit Content Spreads Coast to Coast in US Public Schools
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Parents from coast to coast are fighting school districts on everything from Critical Race Theory to mask mandates in classrooms. Backlash is also growing over sexually explicit content now available to children as young as kindergarten.
Parents who first started packing school board meetings to re-open schools are focusing on books with explicit and obscene content.
"I think it's been hidden from a lot of parents. The shutdown has allowed parents to actually see and hear some of the content that was being discussed in classrooms," said Amy Jahr, a mother in Loudoun County, Virginia.
That content in question includes sexually explicit books like Gender Queer, which is a recipient of an American Library Award.
"It's a story of my own life about coming out as queer and non-binary and asexual," said author Maia Kobabe during a recent media interview.
The story contains graphic text and illustrations depicting men having intercourse, children engaged in sexual acts, pedophilia, and the sexual fantasies of the then 14-year-old author.
"They basically want to normalize the abnormal, right? Any idea of sexual boundaries, any right, and wrong morality, they want those knocked down," said Natassia Grover who pulled her three children out of public school in northern Virginia.
Since Gender Queer and other explicit books began popping up in more school libraries and the outcry is growing louder among parents and politicians.
Vowing to prosecute, Texas and South Carolina's Republican governors are demanding statewide probes into how books like Gender Queer got into school libraries. Virginia's newly sworn-in governor is using executive orders to help parents reclaim control over public schools.
There are numerous efforts underway to recall school board members across the country.
Some parents are even running for political office, including Brandon Michon who just entered Virginia's Congressional 10th district race. Several months ago, Michon's rant against school closures in Loudoun County, Virginia at a school board meeting went viral. Not long after, he says he was shocked when his kindergartner brought home a book on transgenderism from school.
"A kindergartner is just trying to learn. Adult decisions and adult viewpoints and agendas are being pushed down at a young age. That's not right," said Michon.
But resistance to removing these books is strong. Just last month, Virginia Senate Democrats unanimously blocked a bill that would have forced schools to warn parents about sexual content, citing First Amendment rights.
Library groups are also weighing in.
"We firmly believe in the right of young people to make choices about what they read and trust the librarians about what they add to their collection," said Deborah Caldwell Stone of the American Library Association during an interview.
Members of the LGBTQ community argue the issue is about social justice and inclusion.
But many child experts insist what matters most is the children. They warn sexual content for young audiences can have serious consequences.
"It's literally a disaster for developing brains where they watch something so explicit and so stimulated, it actually begins to wear out their pleasure centers in there. And it leaves them more vulnerable to addiction and depression," said Dr. Daniel Amen, a psychiatrist at Amen Clinics.
Others are concerned that children who view abusive and misogynistic acts will begin to see them as normal and acceptable.
According to Dr. Danny Huerta of Focus on the Family, "It begins to shape their experience and perception of what it means to be in a relationship with someone else and it opens up experiences they would never have been exposed to in such an explicit way, and it begins to shape their behavior toward other people."
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