A Missouri high school offered prizes to students who read books featuring sexually explicit LGBT material, critical race theory, and transgender education.
The high school librarian in the Webster Groves School District, located in the suburbs of St. Louis, encouraged students to check out books from her commonly banned book list to enter a raffle for a “sweet prize.”
“Select and check out any book from this list during Banned Book Week to enter your name in a drawing to win a sweet prize,” librarian Liz Forderhase posted on the Webster Groves High School library webpage.
“Banned Book Week” was Sept. 18-24. The raffle offer was removed from the school library website after a parent activist exposed it, but the book list remains.
The list contains “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” which has been removed from libraries in at least 29 school districts nationwide due to concerns about “sexually graphic material, including descriptions of queer sex,” according to The New York Times.
Libraries around the nation are using children’s books to peddle radical gender and critical race theory. A public library in Washington, D.C., put up a display of LGBT-themed children’s books ahead of a March 30 Christian book reading. Almost 90% of books removed from Florida schools since the beginning of the academic year in September were pornographic, violent, or inappropriate for students’ grade levels, according to school district data submitted to the state’s Department of Education.
Other books on the Webster Groves High School recommended list include “Stamped From the Beginning: A Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” by critical race theorist Ibram X. Kendi; “The Hate U Give,” which has been criticized for featuring 89 instances of the f-word and promoting anti-police sentiments; “Being Jazz,” the story of a transgender teenager; and “This Book is Gay,” a guide for “anyone who’s ever dared to wonder” about their “gender or sexual preference.”
Forderhase also recommends “Beyond Magenta: Transgender and Nonbinary Teens Speak Out,” which examines the “life, love, and struggles” of transgender teens; “Am I Blue: Coming Out From the Silence,” a collection of short stories about growing up gay; “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” the fictional tale of a teen sent to a “conversion therapy center”; and “Annie on My Mind,” the story of two female teenage best friends who fall in love.
The raffle was removed from the website between Feb. 24 and March 19, according to the parent activist who exposed it, and the name of the list was changed from “Commonly Challenged Books” to “Celebrate the Freedom to Read.”
When asked about the removal of the raffle offer, Webster Groves High School Principal Matt Irvin told The Daily Signal, “I understand that we are no longer doing it.” Neither Irvin nor Forderhase responded to questions about why the raffle was removed from the website.
The parent activist who exposed the school district for incentivizing high schoolers to read inappropriate books told The Daily Signal he is disappointed to see a Webster Groves librarian attempting to influence local children against the will of parents.
“Aggregating a list of books for which district parents are most likely to find inappropriate and rewarding children with prizes to read them can only be seen as activism,” he said on the condition of anonymity to protect his children from bullying at school. “Many of these books contain sexual, gender ideology, and critical theory content.”
In October, Webster Groves Schools reluctantly removed 11 books from school libraries after a Missouri bill passed banning sexually explicit materials in schools.
The district’s communications director Derek Duncan said that although it was essential for Webster Groves to follow state law by removing the books, the district would “continue to strive to provide materials that mirror our student population and celebrate the diversity that exists within the world around us.”
The parent activist, who is a father of a Webster Groves High School student, said not a single member of the Webster Groves Board of Education supported the removal of the explicit books, which he said indicates that the board members prioritize politics over children.
“It is disappointing to see the high school librarian engaged in activism as a direct representative of the Webster Groves School District,” the parent continued, “especially considering that the activism is designed to influence our children.”
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