(NASHVILLE, TN) – October 13, 2021 – Tennessee joins the growing lists of states with parents voicing concerns on materials being offered in their children’s school library.
Laurie Cardoza-Moore, a member of the Tennessee Textbook & Instructional Materials Quality Commission, was called upon this week by a concerned parent whose elementary school student in Cumberland County had checked out a book, Me & Earl & The Dying Girl, from her school’s library. She had accessed the book from a section of the library that is “restricted,” requiring parental permission. The child obtained parental approval and the parent reviewed the book and subsequently sent pictures of the egregious content.
Noted Cardoza-Moore in her assessment: “This book is not only inappropriate for any grade, but it is also antisemitic in its portrayal of a Jewish teenager who is a sexual deviant and is morally bankrupt. The language and the sexually explicit adult situations presented in the storyline are most assuredly not age-appropriate for elementary-age students. I have contacted the Assistant Director of Schools in Cumberland County and was advised that she had received no complaints about the book. She also stated that there is a process for parents to request books to be removed from the library. I informed her that after the recent statement by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland suggesting that parents who show up at school board meetings could be labeled as ‘domestic terrorists’ I wasn’t surprised that no one has complained and that I will delve into this further.”
In recent weeks, parents nationwide who are fed up with explicit content found in books being offered in their children’s school library, have spoken vocally at their local school board meetings—in more than one case, reading excerpts from the books aloud in front of the board. Questions have arisen on how explicit materials get approved for inclusion in school district libraries in the first place.
Cardoza-Moore said in closing: “I’ve been informed that this book is on the ‘approved’ list of library books by the State Department of Education. It raises questions. Have State or Federal laws on child pornography been violated? Were the officials at the school knowingly complicit in promoting this kind of content in its availability for students? I think we’re only at the forefront of more revelations like this within the state. I will be contacting the State Board of Education tomorrow to find out how this book was approved for Tennessee students. Parents deserve these answers.”