After two hours of public comment, the Nixa School Board voted Thursday night to ban two books from their high school’s shelves and restrict another.
At their regular meeting, the council was charged with deciding the fate of three of the sixteen books which had been disputed by the parents. Of these, the queer memoirs “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic” and “All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto” were banned.
A third book, “Homegoing”, has been restricted – meaning it will be provided to a student with parental permission but will not be placed on high school shelves.
“Fun Home” is Alison Bechdel’s award-winning graphic memoir – telling the story of her childhood as a lesbian and the strained relationship with her closeted gay father.
Parent Carissa Corson requested that the book be removed for its graphic sexual content.
“Completely inappropriate for minors! Your online catalog even says ‘includes adult content’. This book contains pornography.”
According to Corson, the alleged pornography includes frontal male genitalia, oral sex scenes, pedophilia, grooming and topless women.
Corson also filed a lawsuit against “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” which is George M. Johnson’s memoir – telling the story of his childhood as a black, queer child.
According to Corson, the book contains “graphical” oral and anal sex and “all copies must be deleted”.
“Homegoing” depicts a series of vignettes of several generations of the same family who were brought to America during the Atlantic slave trade.
Of the 16 books, seven have been restricted – including “Homegoing” – two have been banned and seven have not yet been judged.
Before voting, school board members stressed the importance of civility and listening to the debates on both sides – several commented on the difficulty of their decision.
There were two hours of testimony from parents, community members and students. The night often turned into boos, cheers and standing ovations.
Seated in the front row were more than a dozen Nixa high school students who came out to speak out against the bans.
“Students are more mature than anything and most have the ability to deal with complex themes or topics presented in these books. Slavery, racism, and other issues are examples of mature topics that students learn in primary and By the time students reach high school, they can work through these subjects on their own without guidance from a teacher or parent,” said Nixa Junior Justice Jones.
Jones added that parents currently have the right to prevent their children from viewing disputed books in the school library.
“While these books are not suitable for all students, it is unfair to limit each student’s choice. Whether or not a student should read a particular book is up to them and their parents,” said Jones.
The students collected 316 signatures from their classmates asking that the books stay in the library.
“These signatures represent students of all levels, genders, and ethnicities who believe they will benefit from having these books in the library without restriction,” Jones said.
Many parents present at the meeting pleaded for all books to be removed from the shelves, calling them pornographic.
“The excerpts from these books are so blatant and explicit that it would defeat the purpose of our mission to read them aloud in front of minors,” Corson said.
Along with many other speakers at the meeting, Corson called on high school librarian Nixa to resign for allowing these books into the school.
“If (the school board) voted to keep these books on the shelf, you belong on a national registry. I would like to request the resignation of high school librarian Nixa,” Corson said to cheers and boos from the respective sides. . .
“They abused their authority to expose our children to pornographic books and instead of apologizing they are doubling down and giving them their thumbs up. They too are on a national registry.”
Later in the meeting, the Nixa High School students present announced their support for their librarian – saying they would stand with them if they were fired.
When another speaker asked the librarian to resign, a student booed loudly, interrupting the speaker. Before the council could call the meeting back in order, another person shouted at the booed student, “oh shut up!”