Complaint filed against 10 books, school committee to draft statement

Dec 14, 2022

An official complaint has been filed with the Old Rochester Regional School District against 10 books in Old Rochester Regional High School and Junior High School libraries, said School Committee Chair Michelle Smith in a Dec. 14 meeting.

According to Smith, the books in question are: "All Boys Aren't Blue" by George M. Johnson, "Beyond Magenta" by Susan Kuklin, "Flamer" by Mike Curato, "Gender Queer: A Memoir" by Maia Kobabe, "Lawn Boy" by Jonathan Evison, "Out of Darkness" by Ashley Hope Pérez, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie, "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison, "The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas, and “Let's Talk About It: The Teen's Guide to Sex, Relationships, and Being a Human” by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan.

These books have come under fire for what some call sexually explicit language and imagery. 

“There is a process and policy by which these books will be reviewed to determine if they are appropriate for our school library,” said Smith, who added that there will be no public hearing on the topic.

According to the school’s website, when complaints are issued about a book, it is the job of the Standards Committee to assess the books and vote. The Standards Committee consists of members of the school committee, the superintendent, the principal and assistant principal, any teacher using the material and the appropriate coordinator from the school district. 

The Old Rochester Regional School Committee unanimously voted to draft a statement letter in response to the complaint filed against the district and the community conversation surrounding book banning. 

According to Smith, the letter will be “on the topic of library resources and materials and what our current policies and procedures are.”

Before the statement letter is issued, it must be approved by a majority vote of the Old Rochester Regional School Committee. 

The letter will be drafted by Smith and will be brought before the committee for discussion and a possible vote during the next school committee meeting on Jan. 19, 2023.

“I think it’s important to put that information out there as far as what our policies and procedures are,” said School Committee member April Nye. “I think there’s a lot of misinformation that is also getting put out there. But more so to help families who have concerns, who have questions.”

“I think it would be great to help with transparency between us and communities,” said School Committee member Matthew Monteiro.