By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
December 10, 2021
A group of 10 Wake County parents seeking to protect schoolchildren from explicit sexual content in library books have filed a criminal complaint against the state’s largest school system for distributing “obscene and pornographic material.” Theirs is one of a growing number of campaigns across the country to expose and remove books such as “George,” “Lawn Boy,” and “Gender Queer” from school libraries.
“Someone is trying to normalize kids to sexual experiences,” Julie Page, one of the parents who complained to the Wake County Board of Education, told the Raleigh News & Observer. “There is no educational value to these books, not even in a fictional sort of way.”
Another parent, Wendy Runyon, who began to investigate what was in the school library after hearing Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson complain about sexually explicit books, told the newspaper she was shocked to find 144 different titles containing sexually graphic language and images in 188 Wake schools.
“I’m not a prude,” Runyon told the media. “But nothing in the books is educational at all. It’s just garbage.”
Meanwhile, Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia has announced that “Lawn Boy” and “Gender Queer” will stay on the shelves in their district as “diverse” reading material for underrepresented identities.
According to the Christian Post, Stacy Langton, who had lodged a complaint about the books, says both books include pedophilia and sex between men and boys. She even read passages from the books aloud and displayed their graphic images during a school board meeting to illustrate her point, prompting one school board member to ask her to stop reading because there were children in the room.
“It makes little sense to me that the school board doesn’t want quotes from the books read in a public setting because the topic is inappropriate for young audiences and yet they want to leave the books in the library where young audiences have access to them every day of the week” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League.
Although the parents leading the charge against objectionable books say they are not targeting those that specifically include LGBTQ characters, Creech says those books are particularly harmful to students experiencing gender confusion.
“Children with a gender identity disorder are confused, but the vast majority of these youngsters come through the struggle and eventually rightly identify with their biological reality of male or female,” Creech said. “We aren’t helping them when we acquiesce or surrender to their powerful feelings. Current secular, ‘politically correct’ thinking, however, thinks just the opposite – that we should encourage youth to explore these feelings and become comfortable with them – that we should normalize what is not natural. To do this can alienate children from their God-ordained destiny, and even from God himself. These books work toward that egregious end, and many parents who understand this have a right to guard the impressionable minds of their children from such erroneous arguments.”
That’s exactly what Angela Lizak was doing more than three years ago when she took on Wayne County Public Schools over the use of the book titled “George” in her son’s middle school English class.
“On October 22, 2018, one of my children who was in sixth grade at Norwayne Middle School at the time, came home furious because his English teacher had introduced to the classroom a book titled ‘George.’ After some research, I quickly saw why my son was so taken aback with this book,” Lizak says. “The book discusses masturbation, pornography and hiding computer activities from parents, and promotes transgenderism as a civil rights issue.”
The following day she spoke with the principal and filed a request to have the Media and Technology Advisory Committee review the book for potential removal from the classroom, and within 24 hours she received word that the committee had denied her request based in part on the idea that removing the book would be discriminatory toward transgendered people and could violate the teacher’s First Amendment rights. The committee said the book was not purchased with school funds or part of the school collection.
Rather than backing down, Lizak called the Christian Action League, where the Rev. Creech put her in touch with Richard Mast, senior litigation counsel for Liberty Counsel, who helped her file an appeal with the Superintendent of Wayne County Schools. In her appeal, Lizak pointed out that removing a book from a school because it is not age appropriate is not discriminatory and that teachers do not have independent First Amendment rights to teach about any subject they want. She cited the school system’s own comprehensive health education policy and showed how it was being violated by the teacher’s use of the book, especially without allowing parents to review the material or to opt their children out.
A week after her appeal, the Wayne County School Board agreed to temporarily remove the book from the classroom until the issue could be discussed at the next meeting of the Board Curriculum Committee. Just over a month after Lizak raised concerns, she was notified that the school system had decided to create a “Books in the Box” collection of controversial materials that would remain in the classroom, but could only be accessed after parents had signed their child’s permission slip. The policy allows parents to read and review materials before giving their approval.
Lizak says she was not “overly thrilled with the results,” which she felt were the Board’s efforts to appease her while not ruffling the feathers of the LGBTQ community or the teacher, who continued to defy directions given by her principal and superintendent.
“The teacher continued to use info from the book as bonus questions on quizzes,” Lizak says.
Still, she says it is up to parents to take their time to investigate what materials are being taught in the classroom before they sign off on allowing their children access to certain publications.
She worries that even though a letter about “Books in the Box” is still going to Wayne County parents, they won’t realize its significance.
“The letter is very vague and if you weren’t aware of the reason behind the letter, it almost seems as if you are just signing to give permission for your child to check out any book from the classroom library,” Lizak says. “I continue to have many concerns with this solution, and I continue to share my story on Facebook in hopes that parents will pay attention to what they are signing and what their kids are bringing home.”
“We as parents must start standing up for our children, and standing behind each other as Christians,” she added. “I am extremely thankful for all the help that Mark Creech and the Christian Action League of NC provided for me.”
The Rev. Creech commended Lizak for showing tremendous courage and persistence in her fight to keep inappropriate materials out of the hands of children.