The Northview Public Schools board denies the petition for a book ban

Northview Public Schools Board of Education. (March 6, 2024)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Northview Public Schools board has rejected a move to ban eight books because of what one petitioner called their sexual nature.

“The petitioner believes that the majority of Northview community members agree that definitions submitted to MCL 722 are the community standards that should be recognized by law in Northview. Therefore, petitioner claims that these books as a whole are harmful to minors,” said petitioner Cal Morton.

The eight books in question are not required reading and are offered in the library to students from seventh to twelfth grade. They include “Kingdom of Ash” by Sarah J. Maas, “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic” by Alison Bechdel, “Push” by Sapphire, “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson, “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison, ‘Tricks’ by Ellen Hopkins, ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ by Jesse Andrews and ‘The Bluest Eye’ by Toni Morrison.

Morton’s attorney said even Northview’s offering of the eight choice books was illegal.

“The First Amendment requires us to stop library users from doing so, and every member of the Supreme Court agreed. In the state of Michigan it is against the law that you cannot offer sexually explicit material to minors. It’s a crime. This is why minors are not allowed in X-rated films, even if their parents want to take them,” Morton’s lawyer said.

Northview Public Schools held a special school board meeting at the high school’s performing arts center, where parents spoke for or against the book ban.

“Banning books proves nothing. Reading books doesn’t change a person,” said one parent.

“It’s not a matter of banning books. It is a matter of age appropriateness for children,” said another community member.

students have spoken out about the book ban.

“As an LGBTQ teen, I find that offensive,” one student said.

“I feel like adults are the ones who take things like these books to an unnecessary level. They seriously think we are looking at this with a sexual angle and that is disgusting,” said another student.

After presentations from Morton, his attorney and the school board, and hearing rebuttals and questions, the board unanimously voted to keep the books.

Northview Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Hinds, released a statement:

“Northview Public Schools is committed to fostering and maintaining a strong community partnership that we are proud of. As part of this commitment, the Board of Education has carefully established policies, guidelines and procedures designed to assess instructional materials across the district. Thanks to the thorough work of the district’s Book Review Committee and Board of Education, the decision was made to keep the selection of reading books accessible to students as they are now on the shelves. The petitioner’s appeal was dismissed. The district disagrees that none of the eight books in the complaint meet the definition of sexually explicit material harmful to minors when read in their entirety and considered as a whole.

While this matter is now final, we will continue to review our curriculum and board policies regarding study materials to ensure that they meet the needs of our students and community standards. We strive to maintain a culture of collaboration with our community and value the input we receive from our residents as we are all committed to providing a high-quality education to our students.”

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