In towns across Connecticut, schools and public libraries appear to be buying and promoting books targeting young people with controversial content (pornography). Now Facebook says this content cannot be published on their platform.
Residents and parents count on their school and public libraries as places children can go to explore and learn. With Facebook’s ban of the content of the controversial books these libraries are buying and promoting, more questions should be asked.
Town money is being used to buy and promote controversial books that some claim are “essential reading and lifesaving”, while the largest global social media platform Facebook says the same content is “pornographic”. From schools in Greenwich to all the way to Stafford in Northeast Connecticut these books are now in libraries being promoted to students and children (apparently all ages!). It appears many public libraries like the one in Putnam, Connecticut have them too.
Seeking to highlight some of these controversial books because the Republican Town Committee in Putnam, Connecticut (PRTC) felt that they are inappropriate, the PRTC shared some of the content from the books on their Facebook account. But guess what happened next? Facebook shut it all down. Fast and firm.
While questions are being asked nationally about the appropriate role of social media companies using content moderation as a pretext for censorship, Facebook’s clear message in this case raises questions for Connecticut public and school libraries, parents, and the public.
The issue of controversial books targeting young people is a hot debate across the political divide. On one side we have the activists who describe the books as “crucial to ensuring representation” while calling all those who disagree with them “book banners”. On the other side, parents and others are against the inclusion of these books using public funds and being “officially” promoted to young people.
More troubling are the reports about the treatment of parents who asked questions and complained. Camilo Riano of Westport and a Board of Education candidate explains “The radical left in Westport calls us book banners, but we are just parents trying to protect our kids from pornography, not ban books. It’s good to know that Facebook agrees with us.”
As public institutions, libraries have Boards for the purpose of oversight and compliance with local, state and federal regulations. Are these boards being kept in the dark?
Most town and city Boards of Education (BOE) have policy manuals that directly address controversial content like these books. For example, new content that is to be officially presented to the students within the realm of their academic course of instruction, are usually supposed to be reviewed, approved, and recommended to the BOE for their approval. Did this happen? If so, concerned residents have a right to see the documents and read the rationale for approval. If not, why not?
Another consideration is BOE Policy Manual requirements for parental notice of the right to “Opt-Out” of “Controversial” content which includes the subject matter of these books. Were parents notified in advance of these controversial books in the schools? Also check out the BOE policy on personal opinions vs. indoctrination. Are books on controversial subjects the personal opinion of the person who placed them in the library or an official public act which could be reasonably viewed as indoctrination?
We must stop the vilification and personal attacks on parents by a few zealots. If movie theaters do not allow children to see R rated movies how can a few activists force pornography into our libraries using our tax money?
A Closing Thought.
Facebook’s crystal-clear message about this controversial content should be a wake-up call for parents and concerned residents. Start asking questions and demanding answers. See what is in your local and school libraries using this https://www.gofollett.com/.
With many school board elections this November, now is the time for voters to learn more.