Dearborn parents slam LGBTQ books on sex theme at school hearing

  • More than 600 Dearborn residents debated whether LGBTQ books with sexual themes should be made available to students on Thursday
  • Many believed the books were explicit and had no place in the school
  • Others countered that it was crucial for LGBTQ students to see themselves in the stories and to let others know about people who are different from them

DEARBORN — More than 600 people gathered in the Dearborn Middle School auditorium Thursday night, cheering, booing, and mostly talking to each other during the latest ban on books that has engulfed Michigan.

Both sides expressed concern for the safety of children. That’s all they agree to.

Many in the Muslim crowd who took turns at the microphone for three minutes in front of the Dearborn Public School Board spoke enthusiastically about protecting their children from what they were portrayed as “dirty,” “pornography,” and about their religious beliefs about books The insult was only available to high school students until recently.

Others, many of whom are teachers, parents, or identify as part of their local LGBTQ community, are equally enthusiastic about creating an inclusive, safe environment for LGBTQ students and providing opportunities for students to appreciate stories and people who are different from themselves. Books that open your heart.

Thursday’s meeting is a drawdown of the regular board meeting scheduled for Monday — a hearing agenda The usual costs involved with the local school board, including approving classroom projectors and contracts for asbestos removal.

But that meeting fell into disarray afterward hundreds of protesters There has been opposition to books they think are inappropriate for students – mostly books on LGBTQ topics. The Dearborn Fire Chief eventually stopped the meeting due to the size of the crowd.

Thursday’s event was moved to the Stout Middle School Auditorium, where the 600-seat seat was full, and crowds watched on big-screen TVs in the cafeteria. Dozens of police and private security help keep the peace, with mixed results. At several points, the hours-long meeting appeared to be on the verge of chaos amid the outbreak, but unlike Monday, it continued.

The protests are part of a series this year about the inclusion of books with LGBTQ, sexual or race-related themes Michigan School Libraries and community public Library.

In Ottawa County, a public library in the town of Jamestown is Divestment by voters In August, there was a dispute over several LGBTQ-themed books.Fundraising has been $270,000 raised Keeping its doors open for now, the library’s operational plan will be re-voted in November.

In Dearborn, Arab Americans Make Up About 42% Of The Population, Six Books Spark Controversy Two are available in digital form, and four are in hard copy at the district’s high school. Following parental complaints, the books were temporarily taken out of circulation while the board reconsidered its review process.

The district has 20,000 students and has 550,000 books, including about 55,000 books in high schools.

District spokesman David Mustonen said none of the books are being used in classrooms, but are available to students from the district media center.

The books in question are mostly teen and young adult stories involving romance or sexual abuse, often with an LGBTQ theme. Several were well received. They include:

  • pushSapphire, a novel about a 16-year-old black girl abused by her parents who finds her voice with the help of a compassionate teacher. It was later adapted into the film Precious.
  • cute bones“Alice Sebold’s novel follows a teenage girl who watches from heaven as her loved ones move on from the afterlife after being raped and murdered.
  • Eleanor and Park“By Rainbow Rowell, a romantic story involving two 10th graders. The girl lives at home with domestic violence, and both teens struggle with traditional gender roles. The novel contains profanity.
  • red, white and royal blue“Cathy McQuiston; a novel about a romance between the bisexual son of an American president and a gay British royal, both in their early 20s. The book has some sex scenes and vulgar language.
  • All boys are not blue“George M. Johnson; a memoir of black and queer upbringing with stories of sex, bullying, and assault.
  • this book is gay” Juno Dawson, an irreverent nonfiction handbook on LGBTQ upbringing on issues of coming out, sexual use, and sexually transmitted diseases.

On Thursday, some parents expressed concern about the sexual imagery made public in the book.

I never thought I would boycott books, but here I am,” said Dearborn resident and parent Cliff Allawi. He said he felt compelled to describe to the crowd some scenes from one of the books he read It’s uncomfortable. “I’m a 43-year-old man and I’m embarrassed to say these things, but you said it’s okay in our school,” Allawi told the board. “You’re so shameless.” “

Several residents who opposed the removal of books from the area said they were gay, prompting boos from some viewers.

District spokesman Mustonen told Michigan Bridge that the district is reviewing the books and is strengthening an existing policy that allows parents to opt out of having their children read or view library books that parents object to.

District librarians are also inventorying the system’s collections for further review.

Those efforts have not quelled the protests.

“You look at us like we are lunatics,” resident Nagi Almudhegi told the board. “We are a compassionate people, a tolerant people. (But) Does anyone need a Ph.D.? Know this book isn’t for kids? It’s common sense. How did we get here?”

Several speakers protesting the books were criticized as anti-LGBTQ or unwitting pawns of a Trump-inspired right-wing push to divide people and expel gays and lesbians from public life. They argue that it is not the sexual orientation of the characters in the book that they are against, but the graphic nature of the material provided to teenagers.

“We are not here to attack the LGBTQ community,” Amro Hizam said. But “blatantly inappropriate content has no place in our public schools. It’s normalizing pornography.”

But other residents questioned that framing, arguing that whatever the motivation behind the protests, students of different sexual orientations felt marginalized and insecure in such protests.

“You hate gay people, it’s obvious because when a gay person talks, look at how you behave,” said spokesman Brian Stone, who was warned by the board for making comments to the crowd.

Dearborn resident Brandy Ahmed told the audience “A lot of our LGBTQ students are watching. People say, ‘We’re not going to cancel them,’ but there are gay people standing up[at the meeting]and you hear the boos, which makes the Heartbreak.”

Ahmed finished her words and walked back to his seat amid boos.

Many speakers spoke of growing up in Dearborn and acknowledged that controversial and chaotic meetings disadvantaged the community.

Spokesmen for both sides said the issue was about protecting children and accused the other side of playing politics. That included a spokesman late Thursday, Republican nominee Matthew DePerno for Michigan’s attorney general. Republican secretary of state candidate Kristina Karamo sat with him in the front row.

The school board took no action on the books at Thursday’s meeting. The review process is in progress.

“We both agree,” said Mustonen, a spokesman for the region.

“We don’t want our schools to have inappropriate materials. We want to provide our students with a wide range of materials.”

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