Catawba County Schools are reviewing two more books; Speakers voice opinions on books

A woman who challenged 24 books in March and a prominent business owner voiced opinions about the book ban and the review process during a school board meeting on Monday.

Among the speakers was Michelle Teague, the woman who submitted 24 writing challenges to the school district at the end of March, and is a candidate for the Catawba County Board of Education.

“I was thinking about suggesting some training for media coordinators of sorts for certain books,” Teague said. “To be able to identify some of the books that might come into the library. Because it seems that it is much easier to get those books into the library than to take them out.”

During the last academic year, eight books out of 24 were reviewed.

Since the beginning of the current school year, two more books have been reviewed. Ashley Hope Pérez’s “Out of Darkness” has been reviewed by the Middle School Committee. “My Friend Dahmer” by John “Derff” Buckderff was reviewed by a high school commission, said Diana Finger, a Catawba County Schools Assistant.

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“Out of Darkness” has been removed from middle school libraries. Wenger said the book would then be reviewed by a high school commission. “My friend Dahmer,” Wenger said, will remain in high school libraries.

Teague said the book review process takes a long time. As per School Board policy, review committees have 15 school days to read and review each book. Teague suggested simplifying the process by having only one committee review the books and then passing the decision to the school board in the event of an appeal.

The process begins with a media and technology advisory committee that reviews challenged materials, such as books, at the school level. If the committee’s decision is appealed by the challenger, a committee selected by the supervisor will review the objected material. If the decision of the second committee is appealed, the final decision will be left to the school board.

Mitchell Gold, founder of the furniture company Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams in Alexander County, shared the story of a 13-year-old who attempted suicide twice.

“I asked him, ‘Why in the world would you, a 13-year-old, try to kill yourself?”‘ said Gould. And he said, ‘Because I’m gay and I’m a sinner and I’m going to hell. “

Gould said he asked the teen what motivated him to go on living. The teen said it’s a book by Gould: “Crisis: 40 Stories That Reveal the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up in LGBT America.”

Gould said the teen identified the sections of the book that inspired him.

“People who want to ban books would probably want to ban a book like this,” Gould said. “But if there is anything we consider pro-life and profound and concerned with our partner, Love Your Neighbor, it is a book like this that should be available to young people who, unfortunately, might grow up in the state where their parents decided they refused to learn and understand sexual orientation.”

Almost half of the books challenged deal with topics related to sexual orientation or contain LGBTQ characters.

Stephen Chobosky’s “Advantages of Being a Wallflower”, “Searching for Alaska” by John Green and “Monday’s Not Coming” by Tiffany D. Jackson have been removed from middle school libraries. Wenger said the books will be reviewed by the high school commission.

Wenger said the Rainbow-Royle movie “Eleanor and Park” has been in middle school libraries.

“The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini, “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood, “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, and “Me, Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews have been reviewed. Wenger said the books will remain in high school libraries.

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