A faction of parents and activists in the Keller Independent School District (KISD) in Keller, Texas, packed the district’s school board meeting Monday after they uncovered a slew of graphic novels depicting oral sex and violent sexual assault in the district’s libraries.
The meeting became contentious when another faction of parents said that removing the graphic narratives was akin to “book burning” and appearing homophobic. Threats of doxing parents appeared online as well.
Mothers Kathy May and Christine Molloy — who spearheaded a Facebook community of concerned parents — showed up to the KISD board meeting Monday in shirts that read “Please do reading, writing, arithmetic,” on the front and “please don’t politics, porn, prey,” on the back.
An educator within KISD had tipped parents off to the pornographic books, the duo told the Daily Caller, which led them to recruit concerned parents to speak out against the district.
Two books found in the district’s libraries show graphic, explicit images of pornography. A wagon-full — literally — of other books detail violent rape, incest and assault.
Several community members who took the stand at the board meeting — including board members — referenced scripture. Many parents felt that books that depict pornography, whether visual or written, have no place in the hands of children.
A board member told parents not to read from the pornographic books, because they aren’t “appropriate for all ages or audiences,” a warning that met with audible laughter.
Other parents claimed that the outrage over the pornographic books is a small blip in what they would describe as an overall pleasant experience with KISD. While nearly every parent seemed to agree that the two explicit books with pornographic images should be removed, some parents said they want their children to be exposed to graphic narratives in hopes that they’ll learn more about the world they live in.
One mother, who the school board identified as Piper Hogan, told the Daily Caller that children have access to far more graphic information on their cell phones and the internet.
“I’m here to let the school board know that I’m really tired of these groups that keep coming up and complaining about things happening in the school,” the mother said in a video interview with the Daily Caller. “I’m just tired of wasting time on these things. Like, high schoolers, they can get way more graphic information off the internet and TV, which they can access from their phones and at home. And now we’re talking about banning these books, it just seems ridiculous.”
One community member shot back that cell phones are not “taxpayer-funded.”
Inside the school board meeting, parents who opposed all depictions of pornography and assault sat on the right side, while parents who opposed alleged “book burning” sat on the left. The factions cheered loudly for parents who supported their views and scoffed at individuals who disagreed.
One self-identified atheist parent, who was only at the meeting to watch his fourth-grade daughter receive an award, told the Daily Caller that he thought the “book burning” parents were akin to the Taliban. He accused the group of imposing their views on the rest of the community. The father quickly conceded that he was quick to judgement when a community member explained that some parents felt KISD was imposing their liberal views on children without parental consent.
After 38 concerned community members spoke to the board, security officers asked several parents to leave for interrupting board members or “booing” their statements. Video footage taken by the Daily Caller shows a police officer insisting that a father leave the meeting for speaking out, though an individual who was truly disrupting the meeting with loud remarks had already left. (RELATED: Texas Dad Delivers Fiery Speech: ‘Justice Doesn’t Need An Adjective’)
The tension between the rivaling factions also stemmed from some parents and students calling for a more “inclusive” and pro-LGBT curriculum. Many of the books that parents want to be removed from the district’s libraries include books that tell stories of LGBT youth.
Mother Kris Kittle told the Daily Caller that the goal of removing these books is not to harm the LGBT community, but to avoid exposing children to “sexual content” “too early.” Several parents sympathized with the way the LGBT community is portrayed as hyper sexualized in many of the “pornographic” books.
There appeared to be a partisan divide among parents, as most who wanted the books removed self-identified as conservatives while most parents who wanted the books to remain self-identified as “progressives.” However, one parent who claimed to have no political affiliation told the Daily Caller that she came to the school board meeting because she feels the district is “brainwashing” her child. The mother said her opinion feels like common sense sentiment in the community.
Several parents told the Daily Caller that merely showing up to the board meeting was scary for them after a community member promised to create a list of parents in favor of alleged “book burning.”
Shane Hardin, a former KISD school board candidate in 2014, spoke to the Daily Caller via Twitter after he was unable to attend the board meeting. Hardin alleged that parents were “planting books inside” the district’s libraries “so they could get their 15 minutes of fame.” He called the same group of concerned parents “Book Burning Karens” and explicitly said that his goal is to “bully a bully.”
“Every person that speaks in favor of burning books is going on a list,” Hardin said. “That list is going to be handed out EVERYWHERE – neighborhood, your church, your kids school, teachers, newspaper, social media, everyone.”
Hardin threatened parents who attended the meeting in support of removing the books as well, even if they did not speak or had “no ill intentions.”
“There were sincere moms that I think have no ill intentions. They probably should have stayed home,” Hardin told the Daily Caller. “I hate to see sincere individuals get hit in the cross-fire when some choose to make school boards a battleground for culture wars.”
Hardin also said that parents who claim that sexual grooming can happen via books are “disingenuous” and that the board meeting was a “staged production.”
At the end of the meeting, the KISD board promised to create a more thorough review process for how books enter the library. One staff member confirmed that the books have been removed from the libraries while faculty review them.