The federal Department of Education concluded an investigation into a Georgia school district Friday, arguing that the removal of several books containing pornographic material “created a hostile environment” for LGBTQ and nonwhite authors and readers, according to a letter.
The DOE’s Office of Civil Rights launched an investigation into the Forsyth County School District after a complaint was made by an individual, whose identity has not been released, that the district had purposefully gotten rid of books about the LGBTQ community in January 2022, according to The Washington Post.
The department sent a letter to the school district’s superintendent, Dr. Jeff Bearden, on Friday that its investigation had concluded the district was attempting to remove books with “diverse authors and characters, including people who are LGBTQI+ and authors who are not white.”
“Indeed, one student commented at a district school board meeting about the school environment becoming more harsh in the aftermath of the book removals and his fear about going to school, and evidence OCR (the Office of Civil Rights) reviewed to date reflects other students expressing similar views,” the letter read.
“District witnesses reported to OCR that the district has not taken steps to address with students the impact of the book removals. In light of these communications and actions, OCR is concerned a hostile environment may have arisen that the district needed to ameliorate.”
The district had removed eight books after multiple parents complained about the content matter being too pornographic for children, according to The Washington Post. One mother was initially banned from board meetings after trying to read out loud a scene from “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” by Jonathan Safran Foer, that describes how to give oral sex.
“All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George Johnson follows the story of a black boy growing up and learning about different sexual experiences. It goes on to describe several graphic sexual situations, including two boys performing oral sex on each other.
Another book removed by the district was “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, about an 11-year-old African American girl who enters puberty in the 1940s, because of its “heavy sexual content,” according to a review from Squeaky Clean Reviews.
“Sexual content includes but is not limited to incest, pedophilia, a graphic description of one married woman’s distaste for intercourse with her husband, an odd description of the same woman’s affinity for masturbating with a pet in her lap, and a graphic flashback in which Pauline recalls when intercourse with her husband was pleasurable,” the review read.
The book was one of several that President Joe Biden defended in a video announcing his reelection campaign in April, in which he called out “MAGA extremists” for banning certain books from the classroom due to pornographic material.
Following the district’s decision to remove the books, the Department of Education opened an investigation that concluded the decision created a “racially and sexually hostile environment,” according to the letter. Despite acknowledging the books were removed due to pornographic material, the DOE said that it felt the district’s process “conveyed the impression that books were being screened” for LGBTQ and diverse authors and characters.
The department encouraged the district to release a statement about the process that resulted in the removal of the books and offer “supportive measures to students” and “administer a climate survey of the student bodies at each of the district’s middle and high schools to assess whether additional steps need to be taken.”
Bearden told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement Monday that the district would be working with the department’s request to provide an “unparalleled education.”
“Forsyth County Schools is committed to providing a safe, connected, and thriving community for all students and their families,” Bearden said. “With the implementation of the OCR’s recommendations, we will further our mission to provide an unparalleled education for all to succeed. Our district will continue to follow state law and local board policies and procedures for media center materials.”
The DOE did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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