ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – St. Johns County School District Media Advisory Committees on Tuesday recommended putting new restrictions on controversial books in its libraries.
Recently, a small group of parents has appealed more than 50 district library books they say contain subjects that are inappropriate for children, such as suicide, gender identity and sex.
Five district committees read and made recommendations Tuesday on five different books that were appealed by parents, and while none of the books reviewed will be removed from school libraries like the appealing parents wanted, the committees made up of a district leader, a media specialist and a parent did recommend some new restrictions on three of the five books.
After reading “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher, the three-member committee said the book is appropriate for students in 8th grade and above but decided the book should also come with a warning to students that it contains topics that could be disturbing to some.
A committee also recommended that the graphic novel “The Breakaways,” a book by Cathy G. Johnson that includes a transgender character, should remain in libraries but only be available for 6th graders and older. The book was already banned from libraries in at least one Texas school district.
St. Augustine mother Jean Moore, who has appealed a total of 47 library books said in a letter to the district about “The Breakaways”: ”It is disgusting that our country would make available to our youngest students a book that would create confusion about gender and sexuality.”
The committees also recommended the following: “Lucky” by Alice Sebold only be made available to 11th and 12th graders along with a warning about its content, “Sold” by Patricia McCormick be limited to 8th grade and above and the district should retain with no restrictions “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky.
Seven committees will meet again Wednesday morning to discuss recommendations for seven more books that parents want to be removed from library shelves. After that, 37 more books will be reviewed in the coming months.
All recommendations by the committees will then go to Superintendent Tim Forson who will make a final decision. After that, parents have the option to appeal the books again and force a final decision from the school board.
“You know, not everyone agrees. And so, you know, our goal is to try to do the right thing for children. And sometimes that’s not what all the adults were Want and so we’re gonna continue to focus on our 48,000 students and do the very best we can for them,” Forson told News4JAX on Tuesday.