Florida House lecturer investigates books in Hillsborough after content challenged by parents
Florida House Speaker Paul Renner sent a letter Friday to a Florida school district asking for answers about a book that has been challenged by parents in the district.
Renner announced on Friday that he had requested records from Hillsborough County Public School [HCPS] officials regarding supposedly “age-inappropriate” reading material available in public school libraries.
Renner’s request seeks to “understand the decision-making processes for making these materials available to young children and how school officials deal with objections from parents.”
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“Although the vast majority of reading and teaching material in our school libraries is age-appropriate, some books are so clearly obscene and aimed at children that they would be rejected by adult bookstores. Any unbiased person who reviewing these books would agree, and we will not condone continued efforts to circumvent Florida law,” Renner wrote. “The Florida House of Representatives has an obligation to protect our children and a responsibility to uphold Florida law, which prohibits schools from exposing young children to age-inappropriate content. These books have no out of place in our school system because of their graphic depiction of sexual behavior and step-by-step instructions on how to access digital sex apps on the internet.
Renner asked for documents showing HCPS communications to better understand how the book’s challenges are being addressed. Documents included are communications, notes, memoranda, written policies, meeting agendas, meeting minutes, and “all drafts thereof”.
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Renner’s office told Fox News Digital that “President Renner will continue to exercise extensive legislative control over school districts in accordance with Florida law with respect to children’s exposure to age-inappropriate content.” .
The book that sparked the inquiry is titled ‘This Book is Gay’, which was challenged by local mother Julie Gebhards.
Gebhard’s complaint about the book filed with Pierce Middle School on September 20, 2022 has been dismissed. The committee that reviewed the book voted unanimously that “This Book is Gay” is appropriate for the student body.
“We have finally arrived at an hour of accountability for our local school officials thanks to President Renner. I hope that now we can take back our parental right to protect our children from the landmines of pornography filling our school libraries,” said Gebhard to Fox News Digital. “We’ve been fighting locally for almost two years. It’s a day when common sense seems to win out over the madness of the far left – who think it’s important to keep a book with instructions on sex, pedophilia and instructions for using a sex dating app on college shelves.”
The “justification” for keeping the book in the media center at the college is that the “target audience” is from the age group present at Pierce Middle School.
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“The overall theme addresses serious concepts that support the LGBTQ+ teen community,” the educational materials committee said in its report. “The concepts are presented in a way that also demonstrates the caveats and dangers of browsing trends in adult resources, such as dating apps. Committee members pointed out that a resource like this- This is better than word of mouth information shared by peers.”
HCPS told Fox News Digital in a statement that the book in question is now in “Phase 2” of the review process which is District Committee review.
“We respect the concerns of our elected officials and community members. Our district is working to ensure that we have age-appropriate content in our schools. In accordance with state law, staff follow our processes and procedures regarding objections to library media materials The School’s Educational Media The Materials Committee has reviewed the book and confirmed the decision to retain the book in the school library We are now at the step 2 of our process – the book must be reviewed by the district committee and we will follow the integrity of our procedures on policy, the superintendent does not have the ability to pull a book unilaterally without following policies and procedures of the district.” said Superintendent Addison Davis.
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HCPS, located in Tampa, Florida, serves more than 206,841 students and 303 schools.
Renner’s letter comes after Fox News Digital previously reported that Tampa residents raised concerns about a sex-ed program at the HCPS, saying it violated state laws. Gebhards was implicated among those parents who pushed back. HCPS upheld the sex ed program, siding with a former judge who determined it did not violate any state law.