In an effort to address widespread controversy over sexually charged books in school libraries, the Mat-Su School Board is set to vote on seven people who have been nominated to serve on the newly formed Library Citizens Advisory Committee.
The school board is scheduled to vote at its Aug. 2 meeting on nominees who were named by each of the seven school board members, each of whom forwarded one name for consideration.
The following people were nominated to the library committee: John C. Deal, Nathaniel Buck, Kali Ponder, Andrew Shane, Amanda Cottle, Nichole Smith and Melinda Dale. Superintendent Randy Trani may add additional members from a separate pool, which could include school employees, librarians and others.
One of the main roles of the new library committee will be to “enable both citizens and educators to better understand the attitudes and opinions held in the school and community.” The committee will also examine library books to ensure schools are not disseminating sexually explicit material to minors in violation of Alaska statute.
Creation of the library committee stirred considerable controversy during the May 24 school board meeting, during which an organized crowd of public union Mat-Su educators and librarians expressed vehement opposition to removing controversial books. They claimed such efforts were akin to censorship.
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Many parents, however, are concerned about the revelation, earlier this year, that many sexualized books are circulating through Mat-Su school libraries. The list of all controversial titles, which are currently being challenged by parents, includes fiction and nonfiction books containing detailed descriptions of masturbation, anal and oral sex, sex toys, pole dancing, sex parties, dominatrix, foul language, descriptions of graphic and violent rape, gay teen sex encounters, gender transitioning characters and more.
These books largely appear in various middle and high schools throughout the Mat-Su, with the most challenged titles coming from Valley Pathways, Career and Technical High, Wasilla High, Mat-Su Central, Burchell High, Palmer High, Su-Valley Jr./Sr. High and Glacier View.
The new library committee will be up and running by the start of the coming school year. Recommendations by the committee will be channeled through the superintendent directly to the school board.