Urbandale Community School District parent raises concerns over book his son brought home from school – Local 5 – weareiowa.com

URBANDALE, Iowa — Dennis Murphy says while he was looking for something in his high school junior’s car, he stumbled upon the book “Hey, Kiddo”
“I’m flipping through it, and like [there’s] sexual stuff,” Murphy said. “Words that you can’t speak at work, you can’t speak those in school certainly without being disciplined.”
As Murphy took a deeper look, he found what he believes are pornographic images and vulgar language. 
“I had to have a really uncomfortable conversation with my son about why this stuff is not appropriate.”
Murphy took his concerns to teachers and administrators and was told the book had a place in the library because it covers issues of diversity and inclusion. 
“If you’re going to teach that it needs to be in a way where you’re not using four letter words and you’re using pornographic material to teach that,” Murphy told Local 5.
Murphy says his question centers on how books in the school district are vetted, especially the one he believes were introduced within recent years to tackle topics like diversity and inclusion. His understanding is the district’s literature approval policy hasn’t been updated since 2012. 
“They want to push these books into the schools,” said Murphy. “But they don’t want to update their policy.”
The Urbandale Community School District declined an interview, but provided the following statement:
“Urbandale Community School District has received a formal written request for reconsideration of a book. Per Board Policy, a review committee has been established to review the request. The book will remain available pending the outcome of the reconsideration process.”
Murphy’s concerns join a growing trend of parents not only in the Des Moines area, but across the country. The books parents are raising questions on predominantly cover LGBTQ topics. Murphy says he’s not against literature on those lifestyles, but believes some books use too graphic imagery. 
But LGBTQ advocacy groups, like One Iowa, say the trend of parents raising concerns over mainly LGBTQ literature is concerning. 
“It harms the LGBTQ students by taking away some of the few forms of media that they have that represents them in some sort of positive way or accurate way,” said One Iowa Director of Policy and Advocacy Keenan Crow. “And it harms non-LGBTQ students by really narrowing the amount of perspectives that are considered appropriate to talk about in the first place.”
Crow points to classic books like “The Great Gatsby”, “Farenheit 451”, and “1984”, which all contain graphic content. 
“It’s of course okay for parents to review the materials that their children are reading,” Crow said. “It’s of course okay for them to decide if that is age-appropriate for that student or not. What’s not okay is for people to decide for other children, other families, what is appropriate for them to read. And that really seems to be what’s happening right now.”
“Some parents are saying, ‘Well, hey, I don’t want my child to read this. So therefore, no child gets to read this.’  And that’s not just morally wrong, it also runs afoul of a student’s first amendment rights.”
In Murphy’s push for reconsideration, he says he will go before a review board on Nov. 22.
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