“I have a list of books here in my hand, if anyone would like to look at them, of books that are in our libraries that promote this garbage and absolute trash to students,” said PENNCREST school board policy committee chairperson David Valesky at the Jan. 9 work session during the discussion of updates to Policy 109.2 Library Materials.
At the voting meeting on Jan. 12, the board passed several policies, including 109.2, that target the LGBTQIA+ and related communities.
Policy 109.2 Library Materials facilitates the removal of books from the district’s libraries that the school board deems inappropriate or obscene. The policy says, “No Material in District libraries shall contain: Visual or visually implied depictions of sexual acts or simulations of such acts, explicit written depictions of sexual acts, or visual depictions of nudity- not including materials with diagrams about anatomy for science or content relating to classical works of art.”
Policy 123 (Interscholastic Athletics) was edited by adding “Biological (at birth)” to “It shall be the policy of the Board to offer opportunities for participation in interscholastic athletic programs to biological (at birth) male and female students on as equal a basis as is practicable and without discrimination, in accordance with law and regulations.”
It is evident to me that these policies are discriminatory. The School Board majority has decided to restrict certain students’ participation in sports. They wish to remove books that represent LGBTQIA+ stories under cover of “sexualization of children,” and a few board members have continuously displayed negative behavior toward LGBTQ+ students who speak at board meetings.
If the majority of the school board members refuse to advocate for certain students, we, the student body and the members of the community, must be the ones to come together to amplify their silenced voices.
We cannot continue to marginalize the students we sit next to in classes every day.
They are the same people who have grown up alongside us.
They are the same people we’ve passed in the hallways for years.
They are the same people with whom we will graduate.
And they are the same people with whom we exist in this world.
We are the same; we are all people.
The members of our school board majority are setting an example that cannot continue. They are removing books and injecting prejudice into our building. They say they are trying to do what’s best for the students, but these policy revisions do the exact opposite. Condoning school board members who disregard the members of our student body and our community teaches students that discrimination is acceptable. This must not stand.
Ultimately, we must unify to protect all students from the evils of oppression and hatred. We are in school to grow and learn. Inclusive participation in student groups and organizations, free access to books and other materials, and acceptable treatment of others are imperative to accomplish the goals of the PENNCREST School District and its students.
I ask you, What is this really all about? Is it about protecting all children, or just those who fit the limited vision of the PENNCREST School Board majority? The question remains.
(Junior Lyndzee Amory is Panther Paw editor. This is her first year in journalism. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.)