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Indian River schools plan to review content of library books after parent protests

Books in a library in the Indian River County School District. (WPEC).{ }
Books in a library in the Indian River County School District. (WPEC).
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The Indian River County School Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to create a commission to examine library books for sexually explicit content.

The decision comes after the Indian River County chapter of a national organization, Moms for Liberty, protested over a list of more than 50 books that they believe have graphic sexual imagery or critical race theory.

Parents speaking at the meeting Tuesday called content in the books pornographic and argued it violated Florida law, which graphic sexual material in schools.

“The biggest thing is the pornography. Incest. Pedophilia,” said Jennifer Pippin, the organization of the Indian River County chapter of Moms for Liberty, a national conservative group focusing on parents 'rights in education. “These books have absolutely no educational value to children. And they can just go to the library check them out.”

After earlier protests from Pippin and other parents, the Indian River County School District decided to pull the novel All Boys Aren’t Blue from library shelves, citing sexually explicit language in the novel. The superintendent apologized Tuesday night, saying the book should not have made it through the district's typical review process.

But Pippin showed CBS 12 News a list of 53 other books her group wants pulled from schools. Many of the books include sexual language. In Tuesday's meeting, a number of board members vowed to investigate those claims.

However, some of the books appear to be in parent’s crosshairs because they mention LGBTQ+ issues or race, according to documents that Pippin sent to CBS 12 which outline her group’s reasoning for advocating banning the books.

One of the books on the list is Beloved by Toni Morrison, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1988. Another book on the list is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a novel about a young boy whose father passes in the 9/11 attacks.

Documents sent to school board members show Moms for Liberty objects to both books because of sexual language.

JAY O’BRIEN CBS 12 NEWS: One of them is a book about 9/11. Where is the objectionable material in those books?
JENNIFER PIPPIN: So once you get into these booksagain what you’ll see they’ll have a sex act in them or they’ll have the critical race theory.

Teaching critical race theory is banned in Florida after a recent law championed by Governor DeSantis.

Documents sent to school officials - and obtained by CBS 12 News - show some parents argue books like Black Lives Matter: From a Moment to a Movement and The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas should be banned from school libraries because of how they approach race.

“This organization does not speak for my children it's censorship,” said Mike Marsh, another parent who attended Tuesday’s meeting. “We have freedom of speech for a reason. Your feelings and emotions don’t trump our rights.”

Pippin told CBS 12 News her group is not intending to ban books but instead is arguing that many titles are not allowed on school grounds because their content conflicts with Florida law.

Other chapters of Moms for Liberty are mounting similar efforts in school districts across the country. Pippin said her list of books came from the national chapter but was shortened and further examined by her members.

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“We’re not trying to ban books. If these parents want their children to read them they can get them on Amazon. Barnes and Noble. Books A Million” Pippin added. “We’re not trying to throw them in a pile in burning them all.”

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