In Westport, the battle over "banned books" is starting to heat up again.
Democrat incumbent school board candidates, Lee Goldstein and Neil Phillips, sent out an email on Monday, reigniting a discussion over "banned books" that started a year ago when three books were challenged in Staples High School.
The books in question— “Flamer” by Mike Curato, “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe and “This Book is Gay” by Juno Dawson—are among the most frequently challenged books in the country due to the explicit sexual content and images contained in these controversial titles.
Republican school board candidates, Camilo Riano and Jamie Fitzgerald, responded to the Democrats' email, and challenged them to show the actual pictures of the books in question to their prospective voters.
"In the interest of transparency, and to put the debate in proper context for the benefit of voters, we are asking that you send the attached images, taken from the challenged books, as a follow-up email to the same recipients,” the Republicans said.
“If you believe these kinds of images are appropriate to show to the children of Westport, it logically follows that the residents of Westport should also see them,” they added.
Staples must have followed the guidance issued by the Marxist-led American Library Association with respect to book challenges. That advice says to defend all books and pretty much to never give into "book banners" no matter what.
Even if the content is developmentally inappropriate for students.
So the result of the challenge from last year was a unanimous decision to keep all three books on the shelves by a 10-member committee. This committee, appointed by the incumbents to guarantee that no dissenting views were represented, was formed after a closed-door, special executive session, and under protest by Republicans on the BOE who wanted a public discussion of the issues.
By the way, it is already well known that exposure to sexually explicit media in early adolescence is related to risky sexual behavior in emerging adulthood.
"Exposure to sexually-explicit media in early adolescence had a substantive relationship with risky sexual behavior in the emerging adulthood. Knowledge of this causal-like effect provides a basis for building better preventive programs in early adolescence. One prominent way is early education on media literacy."Source: NIH PubMed
But what exactly is depicted in the books in question that caused all the fuss in the first place?
This book is about a teenage boy who gets bullied while learning to cope with his homosexuality and its religious implications. The graphic novel features images of sexual activities, nudity, profanity, violence (including self-harm) and potentially controversial religious commentary.
This is an autobiography about a girl who struggles with her homosexuality, confusion about sexual interests and how to come come out to family. It also reveals how the girl bonds with her friends over erotic gay fanfiction. The book includes references to pedophilia between an adult female (trans-male) and minor female (trans-male), as well as sexual encounters between males, a minor girl, and an adult female.
This book covers a wide range of topics from queer identities to activism and everything in between. It includes graphic instructions on having sex (e.g., bumming, rimming, oral sex, anal sex), promotes the use of pornography, and offers tips on using adult sex apps. The book includes graphic, sexually explicit language along with illustrations that feature nudity.
Knowing that exposure to this type of content presents real risks to adolescents, it's no wonder Riano and Fitzgerald challenged the Democrats to show the pictures.
You can learn more about their campaign here.