A Moms for Liberty chapter in Florida scored a victory this week when it got five books removed from a school district after highlighting their graphic depictions of sex, violence, pedophilia, bestiality and other subject matter inappropriate for school children.
The Leon County schools superintendent confirmed Tuesday that “Dead End” by Jason Meyer, “Push” by Sapphire, “Doomed” by Chuck Palahniuk, “Lucky” by Alice Sebold and “Me, Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews had all been pulled from the shelves of two high schools.
Those titles and others were identified by parents and the Leon County Moms for Liberty chapter as corrosive to children and deserving of ejection.
“The books that we are talking about are dark, depressive, utterly hopeless and damaging,” said Priscilla West, chair of the local Moms for Liberty chapter, at a Tuesday board meeting.
“The board rightly recognized that graphic narrative accounts of violent rape, incest, pedophilia, bestiality should be removed immediately.”
Superintendent Rocky Hanna said this week the yanked volumes were in clear violation of new Florida laws that restrict the types of materials students can access.
“There is no gray,” Hanna said of the removed items. “There is no shade of gray. These are black-and-white, cut-and-dried, need-to-be-removed.”
West rejected portrayals of her group as overzealous “prudes” at Tuesday’s meeting, arguing parents innately want to shield their children from harmful materials.
“Parents want children on a path to healthy and productive lives,” she said. “We do not want destructive behaviors normalized in books in our children’s eyes.”
Moms for Liberty linked to specific passages in each of the works on its Facebook page. A passage from “Lucky” describes a young girl being penetrated in an unnatural way, urinated on and called a “bitch.”
The organization listed six pages of inappropriate passages from “Shine,” including a scene where a young girl describes her brother’s penis and repeated descriptions of methamphetamine use.
Another flagged excerpt outlines a man’s preference for girls “the younger the better.” “Every winter he came into town for the Christmas pageant,” the text reads. “Because seeing little kids in angel robes gave him a b—r.”
Moms for Liberty also called for the removal of “Push,” which includes graphic descriptions of sex between a father and his daughter.
Hanna pointed out the books had been donated to the libraries rather than procured and stressed only a tiny percentage of the district’s nearly half-million books have drawn scrutiny to this point.
One Leon County parent, Katie Lyons, has formally objected to a children’s book on tennis legend Billie Jean King intended for kids in grades 5 through 9, which is being reviewed by the school board.
Lyons argued the book violates Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Parental Rights in Education Act, which bans discussion of gender identity or sexual orientation for kids in kindergarten through the third grade.
“Regardless of orientation — homosexual or heterosexual — the topic of sexual orientation is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for elementary school kids,” she said at Tuesday’s meeting.
Lyons cites a passage in the book that defines homosexuality.
“Being gay means that if you’re a girl, you love and have romantic feelings for other girls — and if you’re a boy, you love and have romantic feelings for other boys,” the page reads.
A speaker at Wednesday’s meeting, local first-grade teacher Shari Gewanter, ripped Lyons’ push to remove “I Am Billie Jean King.”
“As a first generation of Jewish Holocaust refugee, I understand the power of banning ideas and erasing parts of history,” Gewanter said. “Banning ideas is part of a larger campaign that seeks to marginalize a group of people.”
The district will make a final decision on the book later this month.