A parent is trying to get a bestselling book pulled from the library shelves at the Sequatchie County High School for what she calls inappropriate content.
Jacqueline Moyer wants the book “Looking for Alaska” by John Green removed because of racy language and sexually explicit content.
Moyer said social media first brought it to her attention and she asked her son to check the book out of his high school’s library last Monday.
“There is a particular passage where it comes off as an instruction manual on sexual encounters,” said Moyer.
She wants the book banned as soon as possible. Another parent, Courtney Head, whose two children also go to the same high school disagrees with Moyer.
“No, I wouldn’t have any problem with my kids reading that book,” said Head. “If kids don’t get exposure to that then they don’t have the opportunity to possibly learn from it.”
She argued that people should look at the context, not the content. “It’s not centered on sex,” said Head.
Still, Moyers took her request to remove the book to the school board immediately after she was aware the school’s library had it. Then she went to speak with the principal.
“She (the principal) seemed very genuine in her concern as well but unfortunately because of the amount of red tape that the schools have to deal with she doesn’t have the authority to say I agree this book is inappropriate.”
According to school policy, the authority after a complaint is made lies in the hands of a five person committee.
That committee includes a librarian, a teacher, parent, student, and the principal. They have ten days to make a recommendation.
Additionally, a new Tennessee law requires schools to scan the barcodes of every book to prove the content is age-appropriate.
“We absolutely have to follow the law. It doesn’t ask for our opinion on it. It says we have to comply with law, every book that is in our school’s library can be found on our website,” said Sarai Pierce the Director of Schools for Sequatchie County.
Head thinks Moyer’s complaint is limiting students’ freedom of choice.
“Parents can set perimeters, but I don’t feel like it is in the interest of all kids for some parents to choose what all the kids can read,” said Head.
Moyer said she wished the Sequatchie County Schools could vet books before being placed on shelves.
“Why do we have to expose them to schools that are not going to help them with their education?” asked Moyer.
To our knowledge, the book in question is only found in the library on the High School level.
“The decision was made to purchase this material because it was on the bestseller list and had won multiple awards. Never would our intent be inappropriateness,” said Pierce.
After the Sequatchie County Schools committee gives a recommendation on the book, school policy states that the recommendation will be given to the Principal and Director of Schools.
The decision can be appealed to the Board.