St. Johns County Schools Committee recommends new restrictions for controversial library books

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Florida. – The St. Johns County School District’s media advisory committees recommended Tuesday that it impose new restrictions on controversial books in its libraries.

Recently, a small group of parents appealed more than 50 district library books that they believe contain inappropriate topics for children, such as suicide, gender identity and sex.

RELATED: Split St. Johns County School Board votes to keep 7 controversial books on library shelves

Five district committees read and made recommendations on Tuesday on five different books that have been appealed by parents, and although none of the books reviewed are removed from school libraries as parents wanted on appeal , the committees made up of a district manager, a media specialist and a parent recommended new restrictions on three of the five books.

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After reading “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asherthe three-member committee said the book was appropriate for grades 8 and up, but decided the book should also come with a warning to students that it contains material that might upset some.

A committee also recommended that the graphic novel “The Escapes” a book by Cathy G. Johnson that includes a transgender character, is expected to remain in libraries but only be available to students in grades 6 and up. The book was already banned from libraries in at least one Texas school district.

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St. Augustine’s mother Jean Moore, who appealed a total of 47 library books, said in a letter to the district about “The Breakaways”: “It is disgusting that our country is making available our youngest students a book that would confuse gender and sexuality.

The committees also recommended the following: “Lucky” by Alice Sebold be made available only to 11th and 12th graders with a content warning, “Sold” by Patricia McCormick be restricted to grade 8 and above and the district shall retain without restriction “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky.

Seven committees will meet again on Wednesday morning to discuss recommendations for seven more books that parents want removed from library shelves. After that, another 37 books will be reviewed in the coming months.

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AFTER: School district announces plans for 2 more K-8s in northern St. Johns County

All committee recommendations will then go to Superintendent Tim Forson who will make a final decision. After that, parents have the option to appeal the books again and force a final decision from the school board.

“You know, not everyone agrees. And so, you know, our goal is to try to do the right thing for the kids. And sometimes that’s not what every adults wanted and so we will continue to focus on our 48,000 students and do our best for them,” Forson told News4JAX on Tuesday.

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Colin L. Johnson