The State Board of Education is slated Wednesday to consider approving a proposed rule that would require school-library employees to complete training sessions that are part of a new law aimed at increasing scrutiny of library books and instructional materials.
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Florida House Speaker Paul Renner wants the Hillsborough County school district to explain why it retained book a library book that teaches middle schoolers about performing sex acts.
School Library (TFP File Photo)

HILLSBOROUGH COUTY, Fla. – Florida House Speaker Paul Renner wants the Hillsborough County school district to explain why it retained book a library book that teaches middle schoolers about performing sex acts.

According to the Florida Standard, Renner, a Palm Coast Republican, wrote to Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Addison Davis seeking records that led to the decision to keep Juno Dawson’s “This Book is Gay” on library shelves.

The Standard noted that the book “features explicit instructions on anal and oral sex, hand jobs, and how to use sex apps.”

Hillsborough County parent Julie Gebhards, who has waged an 18-month battle to get such books removed from school, told the Standard that a librarian reported the book stayed because it met the “needs of her community.”

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“The Media Specialist was adamant that she needed this book in the school library based on the needs of her community,” Gebhards shared. She added that she asked the librarian: “Do you have children asking you how to have anal sex? Because that’s a real problem.”

Gebhards told the Standard that her insistence on reading passages of these books at School Board meetings prompted one board member to beg her to stop because she made them “uncomfortable.”

“The hypocrisy is so evident,” she said.  

Renner told the Standard that the “vast majority” of reading and educational materials found in school libraries are age-appropriate. But, he added, “some books are so clearly obscene and directed to children that they would be rejected by adult bookstores.”

“Any fair-minded person reviewing these books would agree, and we will not tolerate continued efforts to bypass Florida law.”

Renner noted that nearly half of all Hillsborough County students read below grade level.

“We must focus all our energies on prioritizing learning and teaching the core skills – math, reading, writing – to unleash the full potential of every child,” Renner added.

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“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 materials.”

Though first published in 2015, “This Book is Gay” is becoming a skirmish line in the ramped-up culture war over materials that many parents think are grooming school children.

Last September, in Dearborn, Michigan, a mother was so bothered by the content, and the ease of access for children that she filed a police report about “This Book is Gay.”

She told the local media that she did so because the book, which is geared toward an under-18 audience, detailed how to access “adult hookup sites” for sexual encounters and that it coached readers on how to argue against the traditional teachings on sex by both Christian and Muslim faiths.

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