The Webster Groves School District School Board received an update on the district’s handling of Missouri Senate Bill 775 at its last meeting on Oct. 13.
Senate Bill 775, which took effect Aug. 28, prohibits school employees from providing “explicit sexual material” to students. These materials are defined as any pictorial, three-dimensional or visual representation showing masturbation, sexual intercourse or abuse. The bill provides exceptions for significant works of art or science.
Under the new state law, anyone affiliated with a private or public school who provides a student with what is considered explicit sexual material could be subject to a misdemeanor, subject to up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.
In response to the bill, the district removed 11 books from its library collections:
• “The Handmaid’s Tale” (graphic novel)
• “Milk and honey”
• “The sun and its flowers”
• “Queer Gender”
• “Breakfast of champions”
• “Home After Dark”
• “Zahra’s paradise”
• “Be gay, make comics”
• “Lighter than my shadow”
Jason Adams, the district’s assistant superintendent for learning, shared the news with staff before school started. Adams said he asked teachers and professors to review school and classroom libraries.
“I sat down with our high school librarian and with our library media coordinator, and we individually reviewed the titles and images within those titles, and ultimately made the decision to remove those books,” he said. he declares.
Noting that many removed books contain LGBT and miscellaneous content, Adams added that an effort has been made to confirm that the district still has plenty of options for books and graphic novels for students to see represented in school libraries. .
Adams said the board’s current policies place the responsibility for selecting book titles and educational resources under its own direction, including building managers and library media staff.
A process is in place in case someone challenges a particular book or video made available to students or used in class.
“We would form an internal committee, review the work and hear the challenge,” he said. “Then that committee would ultimately make a decision as to whether that material would stay or go. If this decision is not satisfactory to the challenger, then it is forwarded to my office as an appeal.
“I would then go through the process of forming a committee at the district level, reviewing the documents and making a decision,” Adams continued. “If this decision does not satisfy the challenger, it would ultimately be up to the school board to make a decision.”
The Kirkwood School District removed 14 books from its library collections in response to Senate Bill 775. Three of them – “The Handmaid’s Tale”, “Milk and Honey” and “The Sun and Her Flowers” – are on Webster’s list.