U.S. senators and parental rights advocates took on the Left’s “book banning” narrative head-on at a hearing Tuesday, saying it is simply common sense that parents have the right and duty to keep sexually explicit “children’s books” from their kids in taxpayer-funded libraries and schools.
“The ‘book ban’ narrative is a manufactured crisis to distract from families’ valid concerns about the quality of their children’s education and age-appropriate material in the classroom,” testified Nicole Neily, founder and president of Parents Defending Education, at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
One senator at the hearing, John Kennedy, R-La., read graphic portions verbatim from two of the most controversial debated youth books, “All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto” and “Gender Queer.” The content was so perverse that Fox News had to bleep out most of Kennedy’s words for its daytime show, “Outnumbered.”
Kennedy sent out an X post, below, of the Fox-bleeped video, under the words: “You can’t play this on national television, but radicals want it in our children’s schools.”
You can't play this on national television, but radicals want it in our children's schools. pic.twitter.com/jSi20JH3Yw
— John Kennedy (@SenJohnKennedy) September 13, 2023
“If you take away one thing from this hearing, know this: families’ concerns about books in schools is not ‘book banning,'” Neily told the committee. Parents Defending Education describes itself as a “membership association that gives parents the knowledge and tools they need to be effective advocates for their children’s education.
“As a society, we don’t put ‘Playboy’ in kindergartens; this isn’t considered a ‘book ban,’ but merely common sense,” Neily said in her statement. “Yet now when families ask to simply know what their children have access to – or may wish to put guard rails on accessing specific material for children of certain ages – they are pilloried in the public square.”
“Such public flagellation is intended … to send a message to any other parent with similar reservations: speak up, and the mob will come for you, too,” she said.
Citing the hyberbole of media and “progressives” pushing the incendiary “book ban” narrative to demonize and belittle parents concerned about graphic and deviance-promoting material (e.g., gender ideology), Neily said that in they eyes of left-leaning critics “merely suggesting that graphic novels which detail sexual poses not be made available to elementary-aged students is tantamount to endorsing a totalitarian regime.”
Among the examples of leftist overreaction she cited were:
- a Guardian newspaper column accusing the GOP of taking actions against “critical race theory” in schools of “fascism” (“It is clear that the chief agenda of the GOP is to advance a set of speech laws that criminalize discussion in schools of anything but the white heterosexual majority’s perspective”); and
- Maryland’s Democrat governor, Wes Moore, who in a June MSNBC interview with host and former Biden spokeswoman Jen Psaki, “claimed that ‘book bans’ are equivalent to ‘castrating’ children.”
Neily cited research by Heritage Foundation’s Dr. Jay Greene exposing the Left’s false use of statistics to advance its “book ban” smear against parents and conservatives.
Greene’s paper, co-authored with Madison Marino and titled, “Are School Libraries Banning Thousands of Books? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Trust the Left’s Narrative,” states: “Works like ‘Gender Queer,’ ‘Flamer,’ ‘Lawn Boy,’ ‘Fun Home,’ and ‘It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health’ either contain images of people engaged in sex acts or graphic descriptions of those acts.”
“People who don’t want these books available to children in school libraries aren’t book banners. And people unwilling to defer to the unilateral authority of teachers and librarians to decide what children should have access to without democratic oversight or parental input are not fascists,” the authors write.
Lee calls ALA lawyer for deceptive reframe
At the hearing, U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, played a video clip of Deborah Caldwell-Stone, legal counsel for the American Library Association, advancing a leftist reframe to counter opposition to sexual graphic and deviant books being made available to children.
Caldwell-Stone said in the clip: “But ultimately we found that the thing that needs to happen most, and it needs to happen before these [conservative] bills are introduced, is sustained messaging … that reframes this issue … that takes it away from the idea that these [books] are inappropriate for minors or sexually inappropriate from minors, and promotes them as diverse materials and programming that are about inclusion, fairness and protection of everybody’s right to see themselves and their families reflected in the books in the public library.”
Reacting to her words, Lee said: “I think what we saw here … is someone saying the quiet part out loud, acknowledging … the goal is to sexualize children, to provide miners with sexually explicit material and then hide this content from the parents. [They] hide it by changing the messaging, avoiding the heat by saying: … [Star Wars reference:] ‘No, these are not the droids you’re looking for’ … This is not about sexually explicit content. This is about equality, this is about justice. This is about what’s right and wrong and has nothing to do with sex.”
“Well, of course that’s what someone would do if they were grooming your child, if someone were trying to sexualize your child,” Lee said. “And make no mistake that is what’s happening.”
Lee sent out a post on X Tuesday with the message: “Shame on those who want to groom children.”
Shame on those who want to groom children. pic.twitter.com/W1dCRpBG5N
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) September 12, 2023
Florida’s new law turns tables on graphic school books
In Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill, HB 1069, into law that turns the sexually graphic nature of books aimed at school-aged children against them – essentially saying that if a book in circulation is too explicit to be quoted at a board meeting, it’s too explicit to be available to kids.
Fox News reported Aug. 31: “A Florida school board voted unanimously to remove several dozen books from school shelves after concerned citizens read graphic excerpts from the hotly debated novels.”
It continues: “The board decided to remove the books in question because of a rule signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in May that states parents ‘shall have the right to read passages from any material that is subject to an objection.'”
Under the new law, “if a school board denies parents the right to read passages considered ‘pornographic’ or ‘harmful to minors,’ the school district must discontinue the use of such materials,” Fox reported.
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