Last night, a controversy brewing on social media bubbled over to the Board of Education.
In the meeting’s public session, several residents spoke about a “banned books” display at the Staples High School library. The event — held for 17 years, and sponsored by the American Library Association — includes the 10 most challenged books from the previous year.
Three of the books addressed LGBTQ issues. They are “Gender Queer,” “Lawn Boy” and “This Book is Gay.” All have been in the Staples library for 3-5 years. Some or all of them are also in the school libraries of neighboring towns, and districts similar to Staples elsewhere in Connecticut and Westchester County.
Seven speakers last night spoke vehemently against the display. They called the books “pornographic” and “inappropriate for children.”
Some of the speakers said that Westport schools are “grooming” and “sexualizing” students.
One woman charged Staples with “indoctrinating” students into Marxism. “You obviously want to dismantle the nuclear family,” she said.
Two speakers voiced approval of the banned books display. “It is important for disparate views to be heard” in school, one said.
The controversy was not on the Board’s agenda. A motion to add it for discussion last night was defeated.
Last week, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice sent a long letter to the Board of Education. He explained relevant Westport Public Schools policies; the materials selection process; the results of his investigation into “Banned Book Week,”and the process by which residents can challenge materials.
Click here to see Scarice’s full letter.