Marietta school board rejects parent appeals: 23 books stay out of library

Marietta school board rejects parent appeals of all 23 books removed from high school library.

Credit: AJC

Credit: AJC

Marietta school board rejects parent appeals of all 23 books removed from high school library.

The Marietta City Schools Board of Education on Tuesday evening stood by the superintendent’s recommendation to remove almost two dozen books from the high school media center, rejecting requests by some parents to reinstate each of the books.

“Tonight, we are disappointed but not surprised,” read a statement from Marietta in the Middle, the parent group that organized the appeals. “Parents begged them to reconsider, to slow down and proceed carefully, to seek expert opinion, to listen to high school students and parents, but school board members refused to listen.”

The school board directed Superintendent Grant Rivera to review the thousands of books in the Marietta High School library for sexually explicit content. In December, he recommended that nearly two dozen books be removed from the library, and the school board upheld that recommendation.

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Last week, a group of parents appealed the removal of all 23 books ahead of a deadline set by the school board.

Some of those parents addressed the board Tuesday to criticize the removals, while others spoke in favor of keeping the books out of the school.

“Just like we have the general confidence that our children are not shown R-rated movies at school,” said parent Lisa Owen, “parents should have the same confidence in any materials provided to them.”

Rivera said in December he was surprised at the content of the books and had “no hesitation” about removing them. He’s also emphasized that 60% of the books that were removed dealt with heterosexual themes. Critics have accused the district of targeting books with LGBTQ+ characters.

Six board members voted to uphold the book removals on Tuesday, with board member A. B. Almy the only one to dissent.

“The reason why I am still confused today is because if it’s truly about ‘sexually explicit,’ we are leaving many sexually explicit books in the library,” said Almy, who also voted against the initial removal of the books.

Five of the 23 removed books are on the American Library Association’s list of the most challenged books in 2022. Six are on the organization’s list of 100 most banned and challenged books in the 2010s.

The school board previously struck down appeals by some of the same parents to reinstate two other books that were removed: “Flamer” by Mike Curato and “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews. The same books were also removed from libraries in the Cobb County School District.