A Concerned Carroll County mother, who wishes to remain anonymous, was disturbed when her daughter, a Winters Mill High School student, encountered a book containing child sex scenes in the school media center. The mother had read the news and heard rumors of books containing inappropriate language and sexual content being made available in school libraries across the nation, but was shocked to find that the issue had arrived here in Carroll County Public Schools.
Her daughter had picked up “Lawn Boy”, a title written by Jonathan Evison. Amazon describes it as a story about “a young man determined to achieve the American dream of happiness and prosperity”, but nowhere does the listing mention the child pornography contained throughout book, such as on page 19: “Not thаt it mаtters, but in fourth grаde, аt а church youth group meeting out in the bushes, I touched Doug Goebbels d**k, аnd he touched mine. There were even a couple of mouths involved.”
“Obviously I was upset that this book was even made available to my daughter”, the mom said. Wanting to make sure other children wouldn’t be exposed to the content, the concerned mom sent an email reporting the book to the school media specialist: “As her mother, I said no to this book! This book has extremely inappropriate content along with very inappropriate language! There is absolutely no reason for this book to be on the shelves of a public-school library. Therefore, I am recommending removing it from the library!”
However, what would be more disturbing than the book’s content would be the media specialist’s response. After outlining the criteria that CCPS uses to evaluate books such as “having at least two positive reviews from professional journals”, “appropriate for recommended levels” and “reflective of the pluralistic nature of American society”, the media specialist shockingly defended the decision to keep the title on school book shelves, replying “’Lawn Boy’…does fulfill those criteria, including multiple positive professional reviews.” The email concluded with the media specialist suggesting the mom fill out a book reconsideration request form.
“I was shocked. I felt completely dismissed.”, said the concerned mom. “If this book met CCPS’s criteria, what other inappropriate content could be in our school libraries?”.
Her suspicions would unfortunately be confirmed.
Using Destiny, the online library catalog search tool available to parents and students, Concerned Parents identified other troubling books in CCPS school libraries. “Out of Darkness”, described as a riveting novel about segregation, love, family, and the forces that destroy people, leads to a disturbing childhood account of anal rape: “Take her out back, we boys figured, then hand on the titties, put it in her cornbox, put it in her cornhole, grab a hold of that braid, rub that calico.” If this scene were made into a movie it would be rightly labeled child pornography, but for CCPS, it’s kid-friendly content made available at Francis Scott Key, Liberty, South Carroll and Westminster High Schools.
Another find, “Lolita”, tells a love story of a middle-aged man and his prepubescent 12-year old step daughter. Erotic as it is unsettling, it’s available to any student at Winters Mill High School.
In another incident, a mother of a West Middle School student recently complained about her daughter’s teacher choosing “Between Shades of Gray” for class reading last year. The story is of a girl in the World War II area and contains adult sexual content and graphic violence. “Please keep in mind at the time my child was 13 years old and this book was a requirement for her ELS class. I am shocked that the school allowed impressionable youth to read such trash for an English class.” the mom had written to the school’s principal, to which he apologized and responded that “It is not uncommon for staff to assume materials that are in the building are approved for use.”
It’s hard to believe that such books exist in the Carroll County school libraries, but they do, and are being promoted by media specialists under standards defined by the state of Maryland and the county. Proponents of these books may accuse parents of attempting to ban books and infringing upon free speech rights, but parents argue that media specialists place too much emphasis on checking “intersectional boxes” over quality of content. Parents have also expressed that they want their children to be well-rounded academically, but with age-appropriate materials that do not cross clear legal boundaries.
Beyond the sexually inappropriate content, a clear bias would also be revealed. Several books would be found that tell stories drawing connections to hotly contested political issues. “Ghost Boys”, a sad story about a black boy killed by a white police officer, feeds into the false narrative of the “Defund the Police” movement, which claims law enforcement are systemically racist and results in an epidemic of white officers killing minorities. 13 copies of this title are available at West Middle, suggesting this book may have been used in a school sponsored group activity.
Dozens of anti-racism and minority victimization books are available across nearly all school libraries from authors such as Ibram X. Kendi and Robin Diangelo, but virtually no titles that promote stories of successful minorities such as Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell, or Condoleezza Rice.
Concerned Parents also searched biographies of former Presidents. Libraries are intended to present all points of view to allow students to become independent thinkers, yet one has to question if some media specialists are selecting materials with their own personal bias when almost half of CCPS schools do not have a single biography of President Trump, but have multiple books available about President Obama. Parents are encouraged to search former presidents to see what their school libraries are offering their students. This is a frightening trend, regardless of your political preferences. Segments of our history, whether one agrees with it or not, should not and cannot be ignored.
You may recall last year’s controversy over select Dr. Suess titles such as “On Beyond Zebra” and “If I Ran A Zoo” that were claimed to have racially insensitive content. Though these books would appear to pale in comparison to the earlier titles we’ve mentioned, it would be interesting to know whether CCPS media specialists made any changes to the Dr. Suess books without public input, and if so, what other decisions could be made without curriculum council oversight. Such a move would appear highly hypocritical in the face of other book titles that have been accepted into Carroll County school media centers.
“We need immediate action from our superintendent and board,” said the concerned mom. “How can they honestly say that our schools are a ‘safe space’ for our children when there’s a constant effort to sexualize and politicize them?”
In America, there’s been a conscious effort among many groups to erase our past through book banning, replacing factual history with historical narratives, tearing down statues, and silencing those who disagree with the political narrative. It’s important to not conflate the “rewriting of history” movement with the concerns parents have with school libraries. These parents want their children to excel academically by exposing them to different ideas and ways of thinking, and to become independent thinkers, but in a way that’s balanced, and free of sexual and political exploitation. In a world that’s become so politically divided, we, as parents, ask that our children be off limits.
The story comes just days before the Carroll County Board of Education is set to have a working session to develop policy to provide a politically neutral environment to students.
Call To Action
The findings revealed by Concerned Parents make it abundantly clear: the CCPS school library system, and many classrooms across the county, have a far-left bias, overtly promotes leftist political agendas, and over emphasizes checking “intersectional boxes” over providing quality, age-appropriate content.
We ask all Carroll County parents to become more involved in your children’s public-school education. Explore your child’s school library on the Destiny online search tool and review the available materials. Report questionable content by communicating with your school’s media specialist via email or phone, completing the book reconsideration form and sending to your local media specialist copying your principal, superintendent, board of education, and firstname.lastname@example.org.