Are there circumstances when books should be removed from school libraries? If so, what kind of books should be removed?
Darren Lombardo (At-Large): I am not about banning books. However, reading materials need to be age appropriate. The selection of age appropriate materials is not the same as banning books. Materials that foster biases towards others, encourage lawlessness, and content that is sexually explicit in nature that demonstrates, promotes, endorses, or gives preference for such behavior is in my opinion, inappropriate for minor children. If a parent approves of such material, then they have the option of the public library (which the school is not). I believe that our school system should be centered on positive and encouraging educational reading material that supports academic proficiency in core subject matter.
Kristin Hazel (At-Large): When kids go to school every day, they should be learning about core subject matter focused on academic achievement and skills. There is no reason why sexually explicit books need to be available to children in schools, which contradict obscenity laws and existing school policy. The school library is not a public library. If parents want their kids to read such books, then it is up to the parents to provide that to their child. I believe in having quality educational materials in both the library and curriculum that is appropriate, which the elected board determines in the end.
Susan Beauchamp (District 3): Reading is the most important aspect of learning. It helps with vocabulary expansion, communication and literacy skills and it stimulates the imagination. Reading is key to expanding a student’s understanding of our world, both good and bad. It is my hope that our students look at the school library as a source of both knowledge and adventure. They should be able to visit the library and find everything they need for school projects, to find answers to questions or to find a book to read and enjoy over the week-end. I do not believe in banning books. I do believe in age appropriate reading and protecting students from subject matter that they are not mature enough to properly process. For example, sexually detailed books should not be available in the school library. Studying the facts of procreation should remain in Biology class and Health class. Books that promote extreme violence should be carefully vetted.
Jake Blank (District 5): Our children come to school to learn. The learning environment should be safe and free from sexually explicit materials that are obscene in nature. I believe that school libraries shouldn’t contain sexually explicit books, and all books should be carefully vetted for age appropriateness.
George Demko (At-Large): Parents and caregivers should be responsible for what their kids read, not politicians.
Bonnie Ennis (At-Large): As far as banning books, if in the process of following through with the procedure that is in place, the group that was appointed to go ahead and look through that process decides that this is not a book that we have, we've followed the procedure. That procedure is there for a reason. And if the procedure is no longer working, then we need to take a look at rewriting that procedure to make it work for current times. I am not in favor of banning books without going through a proper procedure to see whether or not it is developmentally or age-appropriate. We already have a procedure and process in place. Let's use it.
Luc Angelot (District 1): We already have a process for approving books and removing obscene books. I do not believe books should be removed from our school libraries because they have LGBT topics or are heavily race-based. No one forces a student to check out a book from the library. Some people take books entirely out of context and demand they are banned. As a pastor’s son, I always urge people to read Ezekiel 23:20. If someone only read that excerpt with no context of what is going on in the rest of the book, there would be people demanding it is taken off of the shelves.
Allen Brown (District 1): Yes, I think there are circumstances when books should be removed from school libraries. Any books that do not follow our county guidelines and requirements for the Blueprint for Maryland Schools should be removed.
Gene Malone (District 2): If we are apprised of a book that a parent or other citizen believes is in a school library and should be removed; we have a policy and process in place to review said book. The policy states the book is reviewed by a committee of parents, teachers and other citizens and they make a recommendation to the superintendent and the board of whether it should be removed. As a board member, I believe we should abide by their decision.
Karin Miller (District 2): We have a process for approving books that requires parents, teachers, students and board members to actually read the books in question. Books that are approved based on that criteria should not then be removed.
Leonard Arvi (District 3): Students must be exposed to all kinds of books. Banning books is infringing on the individual right to read. I do not support any sort of book ban. It would be a disservice to students, parents if any censorship is imposed. Students can and will learn to think critically and make well informed decisions. Banning books is regressive, myopic and detrimental to society as well. Banning books is a fascism and has no place in democratic, open society.
Anne Suthowski (District 4): We had an issue in March with the book “All Boys Aren’t Blue.” We found two copies in two high school libraries and removed them. We had no objections about their removal. However, we had about a hundred attendees at the BOE meeting objecting to the book.
David Plotts (District 4): I believe that books in school libraries should offer a broad background of information, including opposing sides of controversial issues and a global perspective, to foster critical thinking by students along with promoting diversity and inclusion. School libraries are an important resource for those who lack access to county libraries. As long as books are age-appropriate and meet all policy requirements, they should not be removed from any school library.
John Palmer (District 5): Yes, there are many circumstances in curriculum, library and media centers. There are topics that should be taught by school and some by parents. Gender issues, pornography, same-sex marriage, dating and other similar issues should not be taught in schools.
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